Many have written about the changing news business, how the economics of inefficiency that characterized newspapers ad sales, which still are the lion’s share of revenues, don’t apply in a world of plenty; how anyone with a smartphone and camera can act as a reporter and draw eyeballs away from so-called mainstream sites; how publishers are hoping the iPad and the teeming apps ecosystem will somehow toss them a lifeline. Fewer, however, have addressed how the actual content is changing.
But we are in the midst of a transformative shift in the craft of journalism. Text-only stories, the kind your parents found in their morning newspapers and characterized by the classic inverted pyramid (most important stuff at the top, least important stuff at the bottom) could eventually go the way of 45-rpm records. The MP3 of journalism may be the “live blog,” which relies on the merging of platforms and weaving of text with video, audio, external links to other articles (including those of rival news organizations), blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and whatever other useful information is available. It doesn’t matter if information originates from a New York Times article, a tweet from an eyewitness on the scene, or someone offering astute commentary and curating links, a video shot by a protester or produced by a team at CNN. Because in the live-blog format disparate platforms become irrelevant, and the walls between these separate silos of content simply dissolve…
Now, consider live-blogging for fiction. Could be something akin to Nanowrimo.org (National Novel Writing Month) but published in real time. Add the notion of collaboration and an exquisite corpse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse) might emerge like a digital Frankenfiction.