The larger question looming behind this entire debate, though, is whether the FON consensus believes that the story really is the thing, that is, whether it believes in the centrality of the great story. I’m happy to have that debate, though the “anti” side would be a bold position for any journalism academic to take. Shirky, for one, has made it clear he knows the story is, if not the thing, is indeed a very big thing.
All of which makes me wonder whether I’m basically, well, right: that the Neo-Institutional Hub-and-Spoke (Hubster) model is exactly where we’re heading, in fact, if not in theory. Mathew Ingram, for instance, didn’t like my piece at all and yet, like me, cites the Guardian as a model (when you’re going good, everybody loves you). Actually, though, sorry, the Guardian is on my side: It’s a journalism institution that happens to be making the most of new tools and benefiting from the amplifying, reverberating power of networks—the “neo” in my model.
Shirky might ask, yes, but how do you finance all this fabulous bureaucracy? I say, well, you might start with a freaking pay wall. But, really, I don’t pretend to know, and I have a lot of company since, as Shirky agrees, nobody does.
Still, we at least should figure out what we’re trying to produce before we try to figure out how to finance it. Us Hubsters already know: Great stories.
As this debate rolls forward, and thinkers such as Shirky, Rosen, and others forge their separate and important path, I would hope they help the FON school clarify and articulate its own aims. What, in the end, does it want?