With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.
Shirky is just plain wrong here, specifically when you consider foreign reportage. The difficulties around that problem haven’t been solved, they have only gotten harder. But at least the sudden demise or near-demise of several newspapers is forcing a hard evaluation of how we fund and organize the collection, evaluation and sharing of information, ie news. While we are now awash in independent commentary, I’m not sure we have found a new solution to finding out critical information that is hard to be found, either because it is in a far away, dangerous place or because someone powerful doesn’t want to be found. When the current solution for that problem, primarily newspapers, disappears and we have no ready solution on hand, we are going to be in a very bad place as a nation and as individuals.