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Restoring the miracle of publishing

How can a media startup recapture the grandeur of the old way we made the news?


Nicholas White

Internet Culture

They used to call the newspaper the “daily miracle.”

Mostly that referred to the massively complex industrial process of printing hundreds of thousands of new words and distributing hundreds of thousands of copies every single day, with more regularity and reliability than the post office.

There was a grandeur in that giant iron dragon. Online publishing is so easy now, it feels like we’ve lost the miraculousness of journalism. The ease of publishing has made media vastly more democratic, to be sure. Yet it has also translated into a culture of carelessness. The old industrial process forced a certain minimum level of care into every facet of the journalistic product.

Or maybe journalism merely dressed itself up with the awe we felt at the workings of the great machine. Perhaps newspapers as a whole were never any more reliable than blogs are today—we merely took the thud of the newspaper on our doorstep, the feel of the newsprint, the smell of the ink as tactile evidence of authority.

This question of reliability is one no media startup can ignore. We’re entering an industry that already almost three out of four Americans believe is full of crap. Business as usual is not an option, whatever your medium. To survive and succeed the Daily Dot has to recapture the grandeur of journalism.

That begins with nothing more than an attitude. The library in Alexandria had so many books that it became a wonder of the ancient world. But was it the technology, the stacks and stacks of papyrus, that made it so wondrous? No. It was the library’s chief concern and its unwavering commitment: Here was an institution dedicated to preserving and disseminating all human knowledge through any means possible.

An organization that exposes the truth and captures people’s attention for it should be equally wondrous. What would happen if a media company actually tried to keep that promise—to surprise, delight, and inform its community every day—the way Zappos keeps its promise to provide great customer service? We at the Daily Dot intend to find out.

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