Best of Twitter: FTC Workshop Discusses Future of Journalism

    by Jessica Clark
    December 3, 2009

    For two days this week, some of journalism’s most high profile executives and experts descended upon Washington, DC, for “How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?” a workshop hosted by the FTC.

    One exchange of note came between Rupert Murdoch and Arianna Huffington, who spoke separately but did a good job of representing two divergent points of view. Murdoch kicked things off with a paean to paid content.

    News media biz models must have quality product for success -- crap in a fancy package is still crap." - @DebGH

    “In the new business model, we will be charging consumers for the news we provide on our Internet sites…The critics say people won’t pay,” he said. “I believe they will, but only if we give them something of good and useful value. Our customers are smart enough to know that you don’t get something for nothing.”


    He also took aim at aggregators and websites that he said misappropriate content.

    “Some rewrite, at times without attribution, the news stories of expensive and distinguished journalists who invested days, weeks, or even months in their stories, all under the tattered veil of ‘fair use,’ “ he said. “These people are not investing in journalism. They are feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others. And their almost wholesale misappropriation of our stories is not ‘fair use.’ To be impolite, it’s theft.”

    Later, Huffington took her turn at the mic.


    “It amazes me that Murdoch and Brill and the pay wall team at the [New York] Times continue to believe that people are prepared to pay for news online, despite the recent survey showing that 80 percent of U.S. news consumers say they wouldn’t bother to read news and magazines online if the content were no longer free,” she said.

    Huffington also stood up for citizen journalists, bloggers, and other groups that she felt were maligned by Murdoch. “The contributions of citizen journalists, bloggers, and others who aren’t paid to cover the news are constantly mocked and derided by the critics of new media who clearly don’t understand that technology has enabled millions of consumers to shift their focus from passive observation to active participation — from couch potato to self-expression,” she said.

    Their speeches were only a small part of the event, and we’ve culled the best and most interesting tweets about the workshop to offer a sense of what struck home with people. We removed the #ftcnews hashtag from most of these tweets, and cleaned up some typos. You can read the raw feed of tweets on the workshop by going to the Twitter hashtag #ftcnews.

    Morning Session: Day One

    ereuben RT @jeffjarvis: Murdoch: “Let aggregators desist +start employng own journalists.” Let news orgs desist & do own mkting, then. <YES

    DebGH Good to see all players in one place at FTC hearing, but seems the usual suspects are giving us the usual spiel. Where’s the “wow”?

    AccuracyInMedia A question? Someone got to ask a question at #ftcnews? Oh, wait, it was just FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz. Way to engage the public!

    Riversiderider No consumer groups reps here. Only biz insiders & professors paid by donors.

    TonyFratto RT @jeffjarvis Scripps brags about building a new printing plant in Florida. // Building it next to the typewriter factory, I hear.

    amandachapel @javaun “The low barrier to entry means amateurs can hop on, but there pros here too” Like water and a farmer watching a tsunami.

    candacejeanne We are 1 month away from 2010. Here’s a #newyearsresolution: Let’s finally stop calling it “new media.”

    jeffjarvis FTC bureaucrat: you are leading the witness and betraying your legacy protectionist prejudice.

    DebGH Finally: News media biz models must have quality product for success — crap in a fancy package is still crap.

    spj_tweets Huffington at #ftcnews: calling aggregators parasites and thieves is the news industry equivalent of “your momma wears army boots.”

    javaun Huffington: having glenn beck not searchable on google is good for democracy, bad for business.

    jen_mcfadden Arianna might be giving the ballsiest FTC testimony ever.

    paidContent Murdoch: Ask consumers to pay for products they consume. Gov’t power should promote innovators, not prop up failure.

    Afternoon Session, Day One

    jcstearns Irony of pundits who tell govt. stay out of journalism & lobby for policy changes benefiting them bit.ly/6EDovD via @jeffbercovici

    jpshankle Trying to tweet fairly neutral but not clear if most presenters understand aggregators, links, or internet conceptually at all

    Danny_Glover Lem Lloyd of Yahoo just used the word “taxonomy” at #ftcnews, so I’m officially tuning him out. Unofficially, I’ve been bored a while.

    SaveTheNews Brill: “The whole idea of government makes me uncomfortable except for the IRS reforms Len Downie describes.”

    yelvington In the boom years, the Net was occupied by rainbows and ponies. Now it’s full of vampires and kleptomaniacs.

    Edgecliffe Robert Thomson: govt handouts would create new class of content concubines

    LeavittDC Solid advice from Reuters: “Stop replicating things that are already done by people who, frankly, do it better than you.”

    SaveTheNews People keep talking about the low bar of entry to online publishing but roughly 40% of America doesn’t have high speed internet.

    jcstearns Mike Bloxham says those of us who frequent future-of-news events like #FTCnews are freaks of nature. / Knowing laughter in the room.

    spj_tweets From #ftcnews: Are newspapers like typewriters (i.e. dead) or bicycles (i.e. adaptable and vibrant)?

    sydneyin140 Can someone explain why FTC can hold a thoughtful wkshop like this while the FDA still thinks the internet is radio with pictures?

    Blasiol2_uwm #ftcnews is ravaging my thesis topic.

    Morning Session, Day Two

    jessdrkn Rosenstiel: revenue of newspaper from print is like sands of hour glass where one day it will be gone

    bobwyman The faith in “Journalistic Exceptionalism” is no more healthy than are the many similar nationalistic or faith based prejudices.

    AccuracyInMedia Rep. Henry Waxman now speaking about “the future of journalism,” and he’s not even on #Twitter. Clueless and backward.

    dannysullivan Government’s going to have to be involved in one way or another. waxman on journalism reform #ftcnews no he didn’t say obamapaper :)

    jen_mcfadden I’m sorry, Rep. Waxman, it will be solved by itself. It’s called capitalism. Bring on the start-ups.

    tgdavidson Dumb thought of the day, from Waxman: Have cities fund news! How might that work in Balt., Mayor Dixon?

    wrldtree Interesting presentation at #ftcnews by Gentzkow that show that newspaper closings leads to less voting, at local and national levels.

    jen_mcfadden “Journalism encourages people to act in their role as citizens” So do new tools like seeclickfix.com – need to think more broadly

    tgdavidson More proof the #futureofnews won’t be created at a conference: RT @jcstearns Only two software developer in the room at #FTCnews

    jessdrkn Eric Newton, Pres, Journo Program, Knight Foundation: journalism does not need saving, so much as creating

    Tracyvs The Big O!, Recipes, and Networks: What the FTC’s Journalism Summit isn’t Talking About http://bit.ly/6Pcwae

    pilhofer Starting the Joaquin Alvarado fan club. The guy utterly, totally, completely gets it.

    alisaamiller Eric newton fr knight. It’s professional ethics. It’s about firewalls. The fear of more govt funding and prejudicing content =bogus

    Afternoon Session, Day Two

    keverhart Pubcasting reform workshoped by FTC panel: there’s more to it than expanding newsrooms. http://tinyurl.com/yb2qwz2

    digiphile Spotty wifi fix: Stenographer tosses 3G USB modem to US CTO Chopra, who hands it to pilhofer & ericuman. Public-private coop FTW!

    SaveTheNews At #FTCnews @pilhofer says “I’m a reporter by trade and a nerd by avocation”

    sydneyin140 Journalism not content, it’s what people take into their minds and hearts. It took 2 days at #ftcnews before anyone used the word “story.”

    sdkstl PBS.com’s Seiken: added a “failure” category to performance reviews. If an employee doesn’t fail enough, gets marked down.

    sydneyin140 Oh dear, bdcst union rep missed the memo: “A person tweeting from a news scene is not a journalist.”

    martindave Missing from the debate: Not enough diversity focus on serving the truly needy in our society. Poor, elderly, youth esp children.

    PotatoPro My view: journalism may turn from a job into a skill. Like “public speaking” you write in you area of expertise

    jmhaigh To recap #FTCnews this will get sausaged into summary doc, consensus points highlighted, collab w/FCC & proposals @ part deux, springtime?

    densmore53 Aggregation of #ftcnews FTC journalism event running notes at: http://bit.ly/5ymuoj #rji

    Jessica Clark directs the Future of Public Media project at American University’s Center for Social Media. There, she conducts and commissions research on media for public knowledge and action, and organizes related events like the Beyond Broadcast conference. She is also the co-author of a forthcoming book, “Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media,” due out from the New Press in February.

    Tagged: #ftcnews arianna huffington business models ftc future of news newspapers rupert murdoch

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