Newsweek’s breakthrough

Yesterday started with a breakthrough — Newsweek, the beleaguered, mostly forgotten news pub, had done a bit of investigative journalism, and had found the great Satoshi Nakamoto. The virtuoso technologist, sociologist and economist who came up with BitCoin. Strike one for journalism! They still have the right stuff.

By the end of the day — the breakthrough was a black eye. The good news was now bad news for Newsweek and for journalism. This, in all likelihood, was not the man. Not only was Newsweek wrong, they were spectacularly wrong, wrong on the cover, using up one of their last bits of credibility. From now on will Newsweek be anything but a punchline?

But what does this say about investigative journalism in the future, when the rest of us can quickly evaluate the cover of Newsweek and find it lacking? And how many wrong stories of the past stood, because there was no Internet to expose them?

In my own field, I can tell you that most of the stories Newsweek ran about tech were based on huge omissions. Their typical tech story was about a titan fighting to control the future, when the truth is they were fighting a losing battle against obsolescence. But the MSM never reports this, because they have too much regard for money and many of them want jobs working for the moguls they write about.

We still hear it, in the last gasps of 20th century journalism — in the stories we don’t read about moguls who are starting news companies (the reporters don’t write them). They still worship money, when all money can do is buy you big houses, cars and spouses, lots of them, sports teams, and offices full of journalists.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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