Dean Starkman
Think Outside the (Gutenberg) Parenthesis on Oct. 16, Columbia J-School

Prof. Thomas Pettitt of the University of Southern Denmark, a medievalist who is also attracting attention as a commentator on digital media, is coming to the J-School to speak on the effect of the digital revolution on society, culture, and, especially, journalism. Pettitt has contributed to developing the concept of a “Gutenberg Parenthesis” — the idea that the digital age, rather than solely a technological leap into the future, also marks a return to the “fluid” and “oral” forms of communication of medieval times, forms that were shaped, shared, and changed by each person who experienced them. Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th century invention interrupted these forms, but the Internet has brought them roaring back. And there are those who say new media rewire the brain…. Implications for journalism?  Massive: both for what’s in the news and how the news is communicated. Join us for an hour or so of deep historical exploration and wide-ranging speculation about the future: on how the medium shapes the message – and the messenger. 

A Columbia Journalism Review Production

Interlocutor: Dean Starkman, CJR

What: “Exiting the Journalism Parenthesis,” a lecture on the future of news, by Thomas Pettitt, Research Professor (affiliate), Centre for Medieval Literature and Institut for Kulturvidenskaber (Cultural Sciences) University of Southern Denmark

When: 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Where: Columbia Graduate School of Journalism – Room 601B, 116th and Broadway. Look for Thomas Jefferson out front.

Why:  Intellectual exploration in its own right: practical implications unintended but not entirely excluded.

A sparkling analysis but unfair to cable channel newspeople, other journalists bloggers, etc. who must fill predetermined amounts of time and unlimited amounts of space but lack news organizations to help them fill either one. Some quantifiable leeway must be recognized for such fact as 1.opinion is cheaper than reporting, 2. opinions based on spoken or written foolishnesses are easier to report than those which require prior research.

Herbert Gans in a comment to Walter Shapiro’s post in CJR:  “From Etch a Sketch to Hilary Rosen,” Fri 27 Apr 2012 at 03:07 PM

Felix Salmon on Blogs

Felix hit on something here

…And so, in the proud tradition of good blogs everywhere, readers are left with a highly variable product. The great is rare; the dull quite common. But — and this is the genius of the online format — that doesn’t matter, not any more, and certainly not half as much as it used to. When you’re working online, more is more. If you have the cojones to throw up everything, more or less regardless of quality, you’ll be rewarded for it — even the bad posts get some traffic, and it’s impossible ex ante. to know which posts are going to end up getting massive pageviews. The less you worry about quality control at the low end, the more opportunities you get to print stories which will be shared or searched for or just hit some kind of nerve.

It’s about how function follows the form.  All production technology imposes its own limitations on the journalism produced, but this dynamic is worth thinking about.

Elizabeth Spiers and the Reinvented New York Observer

“The scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil.”

Ah, so we agree, @felixsalmon, that the first Tweet

should be right, which was my point:

Says our man Felix:

"Without the retweet, or any link to follow, it looks as though it’s first-hand reporting — and no journalist ever wants their first-hand reporting to be in error."

This was basically all I’m saying. 

Retweeting something from a murky source is a different matter, but certainly RTers should at least pause to consider. But, yes, having the original source and link makes a big difference.

The idea of re-reporting every RT is a red herring. You’d have to be the actual pope of news to want that.

P.s. Felix, the link to Anthony DeRosa’s original Tweet is broken, which make it hard to figure out what he actually did. Just sayin.

Here’s a good link:!/AntDeRosa/status/96617333845540866

I’m *not* about jumping up and down about the original Tweet. It is NOT a big deal. But it’s a good thought experiment, which I think is Felix’s main point.  Felix does it again.

@felixsalmon, I don’t mind being the killjoy.

I can see how Twitter may be a step short of publishing (or is it?), but Twitter’s not a like newsroom because those have four walls, while Twitter’s amplification power is potentially very large.  Your “newsroom” has 25,000, sorry, *30,000*, people in it.  It’s a lot closer to publishing than being in a closed news meeting. And while there was no harm done in the Piers Morgan case, it’s not at all hard to think of some harm resulting in truly stupid cases (bank runs is only one, and there are worse scenarios I can think of) if we applied your Twitter-is-a-newsroom standard.

I like the higher-standards idea for big new organizations, and maybe looser ones for others. Like everyone, I like the freedom to make mistakes, or not be totally perfect, without feeling like someone in HR is keeping track. Twitter does feel rather cozy sometimes, but that’s deceptive. The reason people feel a bit of embarrassment after making a mistake on Twitter is precisely because it’s so public.  Embarrassment plays the same role on Twitter as it does in print. It makes you careful, and that’s not so bad.

Hey someone has to wag the finger.