Felix Stalder on Sat, 11 Sep 2010 12:56:09 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Christian Christensen: Wikileaks: Three Digital Myths

Of course, I'm also fascinated by the Wikileaks story. But I don't really 
see it as the big, trans-formative event that that it is often portrayed, 
though not necessarily for the reasons Christensen lists here.

Mainstream media have been in a long decline, for a lot of reasons, long 
before the Internet. For one, they have become strictly commercial and 
ceased activities that are not profit-generating. Second, in order to keep 
their privileged access to those in power, they have become unwilling to do 
anything that might jeopardize their cozy relationship. The latter is the 
flip-side of the politics of leaks which have become a tool of choice for 
those in power long before Wikileaks.

Now, thanks to the internet, the vacuum created by the decline of mass 
media is being filled and what we can see, it seems, is yet another example 
of disaggregation of an industry.

On the one hand, we have an organization like wikileaks (or, in more 
mundane cases, normal bloggers. Remember Matt Drudge?) who are willing to 
publish material that the tame publishing houses deem too risky for one 
reason or another. So, in a way, it's outsourcing of legal risks to 
organization that are designed to deal with them.

On the other hand, a lot of investigative reporting is not being financed 
anymore, not only because newspapers are struggling with declining 
revenues, but because, commercially speaking, it's a poor investment. I 
would venture that the latter is at least as important as the former. 

Thus, we are seeing the outsourcing of financing of investigating reporting 
to specialized, non-commercial organizations, that are not financed through 
market mechanism. The prime example here is Propublica.org:

> ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces
> investigative journalism in the public interest.
> Each story we publish is distributed in a manner designed to maximize
> its impact. Many of our âdeep diveâ stories are offered exclusively to
> a traditional news organization, free of charge, for publication or
> broadcast. We published 138 such stories in 2009 with 38 different
> partners.

So, we can see here a new ecology of high-end journalism emerging. Two of 
the course functions of news-publishing are being outsourced -- protection 
of source and financing of public-interest reporting. The mass media play a 
reduced, yet vital role. They control, and continue to control, a large 
share of our collective attention, not the least because this is a business 
of scale that is hard to emulate for others. 


--- http://felix.openflows.com ----------------------- books out now:
*|Deep Search.The Politics of Search Beyond Google.Studienverlag 2009
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions.Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 

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