Jeff Jarvis has an interesting observation about the large volume of public-generated content around the iPhone launch. He says that unfulfilled by what’s being transmitted through regular media channels, people went out there, covered the event themselves then put it on the new media channels they’re already using to share content and information:
Something significant happened in the coverage of the otherwise insignificant and comically unnecessary lines that formed outside Apple stores waiting to get the iPhone:
The event was covered live, in video, directly to the internet and to the public, by the people in the story, without news organizations.
That is a big deal: the start of live, video witness-reporting. Scoble did it. More than one of Justin.tv’s folks did it. So did GroundReport.tv and Diggnation and the gadget blogs and more than I can list.
Not to mention, of course, all the reporting that went on via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, blogs. . . .
As I said in that post, this necessarily changes the relationship of witnesses to news and news organizations. When it is live, producers don’t have time to edit, package, vet and all the things that news organizations have always done. They can’t intermediate. All that news organization can do is choose to link or not link to what we, the witnesses, are feeding, as the news happens. The news is direct, from witness to the world.
Jeff Jarvis goes on to suggest that news organizations need to somehow harness local people who find themselves on the spot for important news. We’re not too sure we agree with him on that bit though. 18 months ago I wrote an article on PSFK suggesting that a key threat to mainstream media would be the fact that one day, we won’t need to collect our news through central collection banks (such as news organizations) because we’ll be able to go direct to the local source. If national news was already getting their news from local news, we pointed out:
Since the invention of ‘news’, someone else’s local news has been old news by the time it reached you – even in this age of the web. So for one moment, imagine that we had access to all the local content from local TV and radio stations (and blogs) through technology like RSS, and this content was organised in some way like del-cio.us-style tagging, Technorati-style weighting and the way Wired’s Chris Anderson reads the press – not through news editors but filtered by the blogosphere. Why would we need news networks then?