Is Web 2.0 killing journalism?

That was the the title of a discussion/debate staged at the Danish Media Festival today. In one corner, the self-described anti-Christ of Silicon Valley, Andrew Keen, and in the other … me.

(On a side note, the Danes really know how to throw a conference. There’s a live band, a speaker’s lounge, a bar and several different hang-out lounges, one with couches and another on artificial grass. Some 1,400 attendees are expected over two days.)

During my solo session, I tried to explain how journalists are more important than even due to the explosion of information available today. Participatory media, networked conversations and mobile connectivity have created a flood of information that require curating and navigation by trained and experience journalists.

I hit those same notes during the later debate with Keen, who worries that Web 2.0 will kill off the mainstream news organizations who have been responsible for the high-quality reporting we’ve enjoyed for so long.

He encouraged journalists to exert more confidence and establish themselves as the authorities. I, for one, am skeptical that more ego will help journalism build a future. On the contrary, collaboration with an informed audience is the key. If you don’t have an informed audience, just trolls and idiots in your comments, that’s your fault, not the internet’s.

Toward the conclusion, he suggested that a digital copy is now worth basically nothing, so news has lost its monetary value.  He suggested taking a page from the music industry and staging live performances in the future business model for journalism. (Just like the live music business is bolstering the music industry, what about journalists performing lectures and conferences?)

Far-fetched? Maybe, maybe not. No one knows for sure what will work. But I do know that optimism and innovation are more likely to feed the evolution of journalism than skepticism and inflexibility.

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