Brian Carroll | Berry College | Class homepage

digital world

Blogito, ergo sum! (We blog, therefore, we are!)

Schemas for media-specific ethos

>Web sites are conceptualized in spatial terms, as gathering places, rather than as documents merely to be read. They are spaces, in other words.

>The Internet is a large new system of communication, with capacities for fostering dialogue, debate and the sharing of information, embodying an ethos based on interaction and reciprocity.

>Valued is a "froth of engagement," especially powered by social media

>We can learn form ant theory (word-of-mouse, sugar, pheremones and the power of #s)

>community & locality (the "old" part of the "new")

Traditional print media organizations, even those with significant Web presences, have too often applied on the Web their print-product-based ethos of conveying credibility and establishing trust without acknowledging or perceiving the unique faculties of Internet communication.

Old media can better adapt and survive, even thrive, by opportunistically and selectively combining the schemas for ethos in and for traditional print media with those embodied by news and information blogs.

A traditional print media organization’s ethos typically is based on values such as accuracy, fairness, timeliness, precision, clarity and comprehensiveness. To establish this ethos, large metropolitan dailies employ shifts of reporters, fact-checkers, copy editors, wire editors, section editors, page editors, page designers, photo editors and photo technicians.

Traditional print journalism relies on graduates from venerable secondary schools and requires that its journalists swear allegiance to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Newsrooms filter, edit, fact-check and re-check. They vet copy to ensure accuracy, fairness, precision, and balance, or as much of each as deadline pressures and human foibles allow. These newspapers strive for credibility among readers by ensuring that coverage has these values.

This news-making superstructure contrasts with the lonely blogger, a single node in a vast heterarchy.

ways to get news

One Washington D.C., blogger’s description, though not entirely representative, signals a very different ethos embodied in the blogosphere, one that communicates or signifies a different value set that many bloggers share with their readers: “Good blogs are authentic, credible, very human, candid and personal in the sense that it's usually one voice. A blog doesn't have to be clever, but it does have to be useful.”

Messages for mass audiences are eschewed in favor of microcontent that targets a small, like-minded, dedicated audience.

TVNewser | Romenesko | Juan Cole | Larry Lessig | Mark Cuban | Talking Points Memo | BoingBoing

Traditional News Media

a.k.a. Mainstream Media, Old Media, Media Elites

Distributed Media

a.k.a. "We" Media, New Media, Online, Participatory Journalism, Citizen Journalism, Emergent Media

Traditional Emergent
Smart Simple
Imperative to inform Imperative to empower
Market economy Gift economy
Knowledge capital Social capital
Facts, Truth (capital "T") Opinion, contemplation, a truth, the journey
"Here's what you need to know." "Here's what I know."
Positivist Post-modern
Top-down, centralized, hierarchical De-centralized (no top, no center, "dumb")
Professional (we are the editors) Amateur, craft (we're all reporters and editors)
Filtered, edited content Unfiltered, (largely) unedited content
Fact-checked and QC'ed Transparent and collaborative
Polished, "cool", conclusive In-process, engaged, non-conclusive
Audience as receptors (or receivers) Audience as participants
Vitamins Exercise
Mass media messages Microcontent (The Long Tail)
Non-interactive (delivered) Interactive, hyperlinked, hypermediated
Audience as an electorate Audience as activists
High barriers to entry (elitist) Low (or no) barriers (egalitarian)
Linear and mainframe Non-linear & networked (LANs and WANs)
Lecture Conversation
Institutional Personal
Media as theater: a metaphor
Opera or theater Improv
Scripted, rehearsed, polished. How you react, respond, adapt
Large casts Ensemble or even solo
No mistakes, they are embarrassing Mistakes, the unexpected, in process
Performers-audience Community-conversation


Know your audience

  • Metcalfe's Law: The value of a network increases as the square of the number of users connected to it -- connections multiply value exponentially. Think eBay, amazon, Google, even Microsoft. Betas. Feedback. Suggestions. Demands. Programmers who love to play. Democracies in a way. Communities that evolve, adapt, change. Companies that give up some measure of control for the conversation and innovation.
  • Stories are told in a human voice, and it matters who is telling it.


    two dogs


©Brian Carroll
Last Updated: 2012
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