There have been several lengthy reads in the last week on the future of news from Clay Shirky, Steven Johnson, Dave Winer, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Robert McChesney and John Nichols, and now from the Xark group blog on what news might look like in 2020.
The latter one is probably the most enjoyable of the lot, first because it's a bit of sci-fi and thus feels more escapist than the near-term reality of the other works, but mainly because it carries an optimistic and encouraging thread through it in delivering a framework for change.
The 2020 vision is a long post and my summary of it here will fall short of fairness, but in general it looks at four areas: short-term triage (2009-10), medium-term trends and signals (2009-14), known medium-term options (2009-2014) and what Xark calls the new exotics (2010-2020).
The near-term: newspaper troubles, restraint, end of monopolies, fewer doing the same, breaking up businesses. The trends and signals: open source, semantic foundations, rapid tech evolution, advanced tools, journalistic value in aggregating memory. The possible options: premium sites, Web-only sites, bottom-feeders abound, consolidation, crowdfunding, sponsorships, volunteers, interest-funded journalism. better copyright licencing, merchandising, relevant aggregation. And the exotics: Information scalability, machine readability, datasets, mashups, automated enrichment, predictive intelligence, virtual businesses, value-added news transactions.
As you can see, plenty to review, and of all the pieces I've digested in this March Madness of journalism documents, this one has made me think the most.