Shorter Clay Shirky: I’m clueless, but that’s OK

Seriously, he spent a few thousand words in his latest post saying that he has no idea what will happen to news if newspapers go away. And rationalizes that it’s OK that he doesn’t know, that it’s not his responsibility to know.
I’m not sure why so many people are listening to a guy who can’t figure out how to apply a theme to his WordPress blog, or at least fill out the “About” page.* But I suspect Clay just gave everyone permission to stop listening to him, at least until the recession is over.
Yes, newspapers are in trouble. So is television. So are retail stores. So are comic shops. So are the banks and the auto industry and a whole bunch of other industries.
This is what the worst recession in generations looks like. To think that newspapers would be immune from this is silly – but to assert that your own academic interest is a more valid reason for one specific industry’s problems – especially in the face of a global economic meltdown – to me that borders on ghoulish.
It’s like a doctor specializing in viruses being concerned about a patient’s fever while ignoring the bullet wounds. It’s not that the opinion isn’t valid, I just don’t think it’s as pertinent as he thinks it is.
And so, it’s rather unhelpful.
I addressed the idea of the value of a niche earlier, specifically local news.
And I took on the idea of the new economy as it applies to comics here, but there are parallels to the newspaper industry in it.
Bottom line: Aside from the obvious fact that the entire world’s economy is crashing down around us, what’s being disrupted is the old way of having content largely paid for indirectly through advertising. Even Shirky acknowledges that news gathering has value – and where there’s value, there’s business.
It’s just that business sucks right now, for everyone.

* As of 3/15/09, it still had the default text in it:
“About
This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.”
Clay, hire me. I can help. And buy my book!

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