Journal: A Conversation with Clay Shirky

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Net Positive: A Conversation with Clay Shirky
in Media | October 14th, 2010


My current formulation is that markets supply less accountability than democracies demand—that if you leave the presence of accountability to an entirely market-driven press corps, you get less coverage than democracies need to survive. And we’ve had all of these ways in the past of subsidizing that, right? So broadcast news had to be subsidized because the FCC said so when they handed out the licenses, and newspapers subsidized it because they had essentially enjoyed local monopolies but were relatively free of too much interference by advertisers. But a lot of those old subsidies are breaking. So the advertising subsidies that newspapers enjoyed, and the subsidies that were essentially required by the federal government of broadcast outlets, are all going away at the same time, and they’re all going away for the same reason, which is to say, none of those subsidies survive abundance. So the question I’m asking myself is—assuming this hypothesis is right—what are other ways that society can subsidize the kind of journalism that leads to accountability of elites, principally politicians but also business and religious elites? I don’t know the answer to that. There’s a lot of interesting experiments: ProPublica,, GroundReport. But that’s the question I’m turning my attention to.

Tip of the Hat to Stan Garfield at LinkedIn.

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