“The hard truth about the future of journalism is that nobody knows for sure what will happen; the current system is so brittle, and the alternatives are so speculative, that thereâ€™s no hope for a simple and orderly transition from State A to State B.” So says Clay Shirky in an interesting analysis of the future of journalism published at CATO Unbound. The economic model for journalism is changing to be sure, yet nobody is sure where it will lead. But Shirky makes some good points in his essay that can help as we begin to plan for the future.
“We can expect changes in journalism to be linked to changes in subsidy. There are many shifts coming, but three big ones are an increase in direct participation; an increase in the leverage of the professionals working alongside the amateurs; and a second great age of patronage,” writes Shirky. He examines each point in a bit more detail, so I encourage you to read the entire essay.
Neither the simple preservation of the old system of journalism, nor a full replacement of the current journalistic model will happen, writes Shirky. Instead the future is open for something entirely new and different. “The change weâ€™re living through isnâ€™t an upgrade, itâ€™s a upheaval, and it will be decades before anyone can really sort out the value of whatâ€™s been lost versus whatâ€™s been gained. In the meantime, the changes in self-assembling publics and new models of subsidy will drive journalistic experimentation in ways that surprise us all.”