The DeCoupling of Journalism

Journalism in the last century has been about the sum of its parts. The investigation, the writing, the editing, and the packaging all come together to form a force powerful enough to overtake governments and to solidify a culture. The ever advancing waves of technology and the introduction of new voices are poised to change this balance of power.

Larry Kramer, the CEO of MarketWatch, is reluctant to allow these decoupled pieces to fall under the title of "journalism". In his speech at the EPpy awards in Atlanta, he admonished the judges for allowing Google News to be in the same category as full media companies like the New York Times and Washington Post. Without editors and writers, he feared the loss of fact-checking and context.

In a way, Kramer is correct. Google News does not provide all of the functions of a traditional newspaper, magazine, or broadcast news operation. However, by amputating the responsibility for investigation, writing, and high levels of editing, it frees itself to extend the possibilities of high efficiency editing and packaging.

No news organization can lay claims to the wealth of information laid bare on Google News. It can bring to light the answer to questions any single newspaper missed, simply because it relies on a much broader spectrum of writers. The front page of their site leans on the editorial decisions of thousands of talented journalists, instead of the idiosynchratic choices of a single editorial board.

Google News does not imply that all of the traditional functions of media organizations are not important. It would be nothing without them. However, it has realized, quicker than most, that those functions don't have to be directly linked to one another. The simple act of deconstruction allows them to be put together in new and useful ways.