Social filters have replaced professional ones

Chris Anderson, of Long Tail and now Free fame, is obviously getting peeved at the questions he’s getting from journalists. He says as much in this interview at Frank Hornig at Probably the most important line in this rather tedious interview is when Anderson says:

I read lots of articles from mainstream media but I don’t go to mainstream media directly to read it. It comes to me, which is really quite common these days. More and more people are choosing social filters for their news rather than professional filters. We’re tuning out television news, we’re tuning out newspapers. And we still hear about the important stuff, it’s just that it’s not like this drumbeat of bad news. It’s news that matters. I figure by the time something gets to me it’s been vetted by those I trust. So the stupid stuff that doesn’t matter is not going to get to me.

[From Who needs newspapers when you have Twitter? | Salon News]

Like Anderson, I have developed filters to tune out much of what is in the media. A few years ago journalists were decrying the loss of the all (self-)important gate-keeping function that they said they performed. I got to a point where I thought that if that is what journalists think is their unique selling point then they’re doomed because they are doing a lousy job of determining what is really important.

I spend a lot of time sifting through, while ignoring, much of the garbage produced by media to find a few, small nuggets of information that are useful. I can afford to do that. It’s my job. Not only can I not imagine most people doing this, I think they stopped quite a while ago. They realised that the signal-to-noise ratio was so low that they were better served by just tuning out.

I can ignore most of the childish nonsense that obsesses the mainstream media. Honestly, if it weren’t my job, I would pay to filter out much of this noise. I don’t need to read the professional trolls aka columnists who try to tell me what I should be outraged about. I can figure that out for myself, thank you very much. I do pay for insightful analysis. Most of what obsesses the media is remarkably juvenile, and as the media’s fortunes have waned, they have becoming annoyingly shrill in trying to reassert their role in society. Watchdogs? Defenders of democracy? I wish. Mostly of the media operate as little more than professional gossips and hypocritical scolds.

For the last several years, I have said that the network is my filter. Through blogs, social bookmarking services like Delicious, Twitter and even simple things like email newsletters, I am passed incredibly relevant and high quality information. It’s not that I think professional journalists are superfluous. I just find that social filters are providing an extremely valuable service in recommending the best, most relevant information available.

We’re coming to an economic point where we as journalists have crossed a Rubicon where we can’t do more with less, we’re simply going to have to do less. We just don’t have the resources to create redundant content that provides little value to our audiences. We need to start looking to ways to filter the best information. We need to do it soon. We’re running out of time. Our audiences ran out of patience long ago.