This is what I’ve been trying to say, although this post by Clay Shirky states the case more elegantly:
“Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.
“When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”
We’ve all expended a lot of energy mourning the sad lot of newspapers and fretting about the State of the Printed Word over the last decade or so, fussing about disappearing readership and so on. We grind our teeth about the explosion of know-nothing bloggers (myself excluded, of course!!) at the expense of experienced journalists (myself included) and the rich irony of comic strips such as Doonesbury lampooning the situation.
But Shirky’s point is that while we try to figure out how to save newspapers or TV or radio news or to monetize their online ventures, the revolution goes on. And some heretic out there will strike gold, and it will be messy, ruinous, chaotic and glorious and incredibly fun – for some of us. And some of us will be left to unsatisfying careers doing something completely different such as stocking shelves or, God forbid, selling life insurance (been there, done that).