I’m glad Jeff Jarvis has returned with a vengeance to his blog. My suspicion is that he’s been saving up this New Building Block piece, making due with fun pointers to the serious topic while buried in his book.
Yesterday, he wrote about (one aspect of) a subject near and dear to my heart. The radical unbundling of the news. In a post titled “The building block of journalism is no longer the article,” Jarvis writes, “I think the new building block of journalism needs to be the topic.”
He’s only half-right, though. As I’ve said way too many times, in way too many ways, on this blog, the new architecture of news—its new elegant organization—is two-fold.
On the one hand, yes, topics are central. We’re talking ideas, brands, memes, beats, events, and more. On the other hand, however, PEOPLE ARE CRITICAL.
Consider these data points:
- 30% of Google searches are said to be on people.
- 52% of queries made to a blog search engine contained named entities: people, products, and companies. (PDF) I’d leave out the products, but as ‘actors’ or ‘decision-makers,’ I’d include the companies under the same umbrella as people.
- Facebook and MySpace demonstrate that we care about people and their relationships online.
- Or Jarvis’s own words, from July 2007: “I now believe that he who figures out how to help people organize themselves — letting them connect with each other and with what they all know — will end up with news, listings, reviews, data, gossip, and more as byproducts.”
At the time, I linked to that post, called “Towns are hyperlocal social networks with data (people that is).” That bit of link bait caught his eye, and he excerpted a chunk of it in a follow-up post called “It’s about people” a few days later.
In fact, my post, called “Grokky Jarvis Has Something to Say about the News,” was about more than people. I wrote, “The bits of content must be contingent on the people they discuss. The people, and also the issues, who constitute the story, as it were, must be liberated from the confines of the article.”
Ouch, that syntax makes me cringe, but there it is nonetheless: the PEOPLE and the ISSUES.