News is dead. Long live News.

The Future of News is local or nothing much else, says a Jeremy Wagstaff, a longtime journalist now syndicating columns to the Wall Street Journal, the BBC and across Asia.

Jeremy makes a few strong points for a discussion carried on around the world. But first he narrows how he defines what we call news.

We journalists have been schooled in a kind of journalism that goes back to the days when a German called Paul Julius Reuter [wiki] was delivering it by pigeon. His problem was a simple one: getting new information quickly from A to B. It could be stock prices; it could be the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

That definition of news has remained with us until today.

Today we have gadgets, not pigeons. We’re informed quickly and from thousands if not uncountable sources and friends.

Because we’re informed, news doesn’t hit us in the same way it used to when we didn’t [have instant resources].

True, if someone hits a tall building with an airliner, that’s news to all of us. The U.S. invades or leaves Iraq; that’s news.

But the rest of the time, news is a slippery beast that means different things to different people.


What we’re seeing with the Internet is not a revolution against the values of old media; a revolution against the notion that it’s only us who can dictate what is news.

What we’re seeing is that people get their news from whoever can help them answer the question they’re asking. We want the headlines, we go to CNN. But the rest of the time, “news” is for us just part of a much bigger search for information, to stay informed.