Many learned essays have surfaced this year and last on the plight and direction of the newspaper, but Clay Shirky's new post adds mightily to the body of work.
Shirky has a reassuring and assertive quality to his scholarly work as a prof and a passionate quality to his craft work as a journalist.
His basic message is that the transformation is disruptive in a larger way than most are accepting. He thinks this revolution is messy and that new won't replace old before old disappears.
It doesn't do justice necessarily to quote the final paragraph without snippeting the first few dozen, but it's a nice ending that won't be ruined when you read the earlier couple of thousand words.
"For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers. Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues. Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results. Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the reporting we need."