Renegotiate society’s norms for new technology, says Jeff Jarvis

Posted on March 23, 2013

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New Delhi, March 22: With the print media adapting to digital for mats of news reporting across the world, American journalist Jeff Jarvis has advocated the cause of readying society for new technology.

Addressing the Express Institute of Media Studies (EXIMS) students on Friday, Jarvis said, “Norms are never there whenever there is a new technology. But we figure it out and get the laws evolved. There is a process of renegotiating society’s norms for these new technologies.”

On the issue of making newspaper websites more interactive, Jarvis said that editorial ego should not come in the way of allowing readers to post their feedback on news stories as the higher form of interactivity is collaboration.

“We must not get rid of the comments because that will send the worst message. We need to rise above that. For business efficiency, we must create platforms to enable people to share what they know and then journalists can add value to it by giving perspective. We must measure the relationship we have with people by becoming more relevant,” he said.

Jarvis, an advocate of open web, said that the problem of newspapers dying because of the Internet — especially Google — is worrisome but the search giant has made readers discover more things today than they could have done by only reading newspapers.

The debate on the future of journalism has become hotter with The Washington Post announcing that like other newspapers, it will put up a paywall and charge non-subscribers for access to its website.

“Concrete paywall doesn’t work and Google didn’t steal our advertising money. It has only given a better deal to the advertisers. With the internet, the time spent on one brand individually has gone down while earlier, a news paper reader would spend 30-40 minutes reading one paper,” said the creator of the popular weblog BuzzMachine.

He also said that Google is changing the business model that newspapers have followed. “The internet is not a medium or content. It is only a platform to connect people and inform. It is only a tool whose use can be good or bad. Google is a service and we can lear n from it,” Jarvis explained.

Many newspapers in the US have changed operations since the advent of the internet and making their reporters report for the web first and making their staff specialised in multimedia. Besides, some have started embedding their story links in blogs based on the latter’s brand, revenue, analytics and type of links.

Addressing the concer ns raised on the intrusion of privacy by Google through its applications like Google Glass and its misuse, Jarvis said, “The government is more dangerous and it portrays itself as a protector. People interact with data and recording is great for journalism.”

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