Illustrating the new journalism model

Illustrating the new journalism model.
I’m getting ready for a presentation to the journalism faculty at a large J‑school and came up with a couple of graphics that help explain the difference between the old and the new models. The first illustration is today’s typical media entity, courtesy of Walter Lippmann’s (the father of modern journalism) core beliefs that an educated élite are necessary to lead the masses through the manufacture of consent. Modernist media outlets are all structured this way — like the hubs of giant wheels, with each spoke representing an individual or group of individuals. This is the print model and the broadcast model, where the news reaches people via a top-down delivery system.

The second illustration represents a Postmodern media outlet. It sits at one of the millions (billions?) of intersections of a giant web, wherein each person also represents an intersection. There is no top or bottom, and, as such, the term “bottom-up” is really a misnomer. The flow of information runs through the same channels for the big boys’ Websites that it does for the end users’ emails. It is not just two-way; it’s multi-directional. This clearly shows the problem for Modernist media institutions, whose business models are built on the top-down paradigm above.

RSS allows users along the Web to “pull” news from the various media entities, thereby assuming completely the distribution of content. The Internet is truly a communications frontier, and I think we’re only beginning to understand its power.


  1. If I were in your audience, my first question would be “So if there’s no structure, how do I make a living? Are my credentials, in terms of where I studied or which media outlet employs me, of any value in this new world?”

    I would appreciate your insights. Thanks.

  2. I don’t think one replaces the other altogether, but if I was in your shoes, I’d certainly start putting together a multimedia skill set. The issue of how journalists will make a living in an anarchical model remains to be seen. Most of the conjecture I’ve read comes from those predisposed to mass market thinking, and I’m not sure any of those rules will apply downstream.

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