Editors recast as community plumbers

17 09 2008

As newsrooms around the world are reorganizing and writing new media and citizen journalism into their business models, questions abound about newsroom production roles. In his Guardian column, CUNY professor of journalism Jeff Jarvis ponders about the fate of (sub)editors in the networked journalism era:

“Online, editors aren’t needed to fit copy into ever-changing designs. We use templates anyone can easily fill and there is no shortage of space, only of attention. And when most online readers on most news sites skip home pages and the packaging editors do there – going directly to stories via search and links – one wonders whether we also need editors to pick the news anymore.”

Prof. Jarvis has a point – changes in newsroom technology change production routines – but he’s also quick to point out that

“As we move from an economy of scarcity in media to one of abundance, there is a need to curate: to find the best and brightest from an infinite supply of witnesses, commentators, photographers and experts. As news becomes collaborative, editors will need to assemble networks from among staff and the public; that makes them community organisers.”

I’d like to dub the editors of the future – pace Drupal – community plumbers: networkers par excellence, who’s hot and who’s not experts, human ‘authoritative voice’ aggregators from the murky depths of the blogosphere. Where can I sign up?

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