Jay Rosen on SXSW, Future of News Context, Prophecy of ‘Max Headroom’

BY Hari Sreenivasan  March 19, 2010 at 10:51 AM EDT

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen
This year, none of us here at the @Newshour were lucky enough to get to #SXSW (that’s Twitter shorthand for the South by Southwest conference/festival/gathering in Austin, Texas), so we lived vicariously through the posts of some public media friends at @pbs and shared their finds on a Posterous blog we created. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, you can also follow topics by hashtag.

It didn’t take long to figure out that one topic that seemed to pick up a good deal of traction was called “The Future of Context.” It is a topic fairly important to the future of how we do what we do here at the PBS Newshour and beyond. One of the panelists, Jay Rosen, author of the PRESSthink blog, a contributor to PBS MediaShift’s Idea Lab and journalism professor at NYU also is an adviser to Spot.us, a project kickstarted by David Cohn with funding from the Knight Foundation*. If you’re familiar with Kiva, the wildly successful enabler of microloans to entrepreneurs around the world, Spot.us is similar but for journalists who are seeking funding for their reporting.

“The news has to become more demand driven without surrounding itself to demand,” Rosen said, saying that journalists in the past have both been able to ignore demands of consumers but also became slaves to their demands as well.” Spot.us, he says, is in the “pragmatic middle ground.”

Hear our full conversation with Rosen:

If you’d like more information on the future of context discussion, here is a good summary of the panel, and an interesting longer-form response. Our conversation also included a reference to Max Headroom — a bit of a cult classic TV show which was indeed was prophetic in many ways about what news cycles have turned into today.

“Actually, Max Headroom … was very prophetic on a lot of levels. The world that we first glimpsed in that crazy TV show is in many ways unfolding before us,” Rosen said.

  • For the record, the PBS NewsHour is funded in part by the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation.