Clay Shirky in the Guardian


Shirky is something of a man-of-the-moment when it comes to new media. He’s got a book, Here Comes Everybody, s subtitled “the power of organizing without organisations”, one of the themes of which is the way we can all use tools like the internet to do things that years ago would have been impossible without a decent sized budget.

The Guardian have asked Shirky to give some media predictions for 2009, and he has interesting things to say about newspapers, magazines, and television.

My interest in the media is on the critical side: I’ve no hankering to work in the media. For students, the question is this: do you want to understand the media and the power it has in our everyday lives, or are you interested in a career in the media? If you tend towards the latter, what do you think the media industry will look like in 5 or 10 years?

According to Shirky, a lot of newspapers are going to abandon their print editions and go online. What jobs, and what kind of jobs, will the newspaper industry support in 5 years’ time? He makes a similar argument for magazines – especially niche and specialist magazines, which have been the heart and soul of the market for 15 years or so. Shirky thinks that the ones in which glossy photos really matter will be the last to go. On television, he says this:

The big fight will be between passion and mass appeal but I don't think it's a question of who will win. It's not a transition from A to B, it's one to many. The question is who figures out the business model that says it's better to have 6 million passionate fans than 7 million bored ones? That is going to be the transformation because what you see with these user groups, whether it's for reality TV or science fiction, is that people love the conversation around the shows.

Read more here.