Jesse Hirsh: [Full interview transcript] Newsmakers Pt. 2

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Jesse Hirsh is a co-founder of the Academy of the Impossible, a “peer-to-peer life-long learning facility.” He has a weekly column on CBC Radio and owns Metaviews Media Management, Inc. Read Jesse’s full bio here…

Click here to watch part 2 of Jesse’s interview, “Who Are the New Newsmakers?”

Jesse: My name is Jesse Hirsh, and I consider myself an Internet intellectual – in that as soon as I discovered the Internet in the mid-90s, I decided, “this is what I want to study.” I want to spend my whole life in this classroom, in the sense that the Internet is this big learning curve.

Journalism, news, will always exist. The question is, “under what format?” And I think that we’re procrastinating, that we’re pushing off the discussion of how it should happen, because the old industry, the established industries, have their head in the sand. They don’t want to look at new models, they don’t want to experiment. Instead, they’re experimentation is just to copy each other. A website, a mobile application. That’s not experimentation. Experimentation would be looking at new modes of journalism, would be working with young people around creating memes instead of headlines as a way to sell stories.

Ramona: What are the implications for the big institutions, then?

Jesse: Economically, it’s important to note that advertising dollars on traditional media are not being replaced by digital media. For every subscriber that a newspaper loses, that subscriber goes to the website and they’re getting one-tenth of the revenue. So digital will never replace the money that newspapers had, so the first thing they need to do is dramatically scale down their budget. And the easiest way to do that would be to stop printing the newspaper. So we’re really at this point of “use it or lose it” for all these media organizations. They have an audience. If they don’t use that audience, if they don’t engage that audience, they’re going to lose that audience.

Who is the audience and who is the newsmaker?

Jesse: I think there’s a big change happening with regard to who the newsmaker is and who the newsgatherer is. On the one hand there is a democratization. Not only can anyone get their 15 minutes of fame, they can get their 15 seconds of fame every single day if they really wanted it. Because the ability to get attention is available to anyone. And in that sense, I think there’s very much still a role for the professional, for the trained journalist. Because the more democratized the environment, the more value there is in a person who really does it well.


  • Journalism is changing and newspapers need to engage their audience in order to keep them 
  • Citizen journalism means that anyone can get their few minutes of fame and build an audience
  • As more voices get added to the mix, journalism is still important because they provide quality content

Follow Jesse on Twitter @jessehirsh.


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