“In a world of so much choice, the smartest and most lucrative consumers will pay their attention to the middleman that acts the most on their behalf.”

Marketing sage Seth Godin’s comment under a blog article by Jeff Jarvis, agreeing with his criticism of Google chief economist Hal Varian’s verdict on newspapers.

Godin adds:

Go further, Jeff! Why is the newspaper a middleman and not a representative? If the paper hurries, it can represent the interests of its readers to those that used to be advertisers, instead of the other way around.

Jarvis answers:

I’ve been talking with smart folks recently about the journalist as community organizer — helping the community accomplish what it wants to accomplish and not just through information but through action.
Further, I’ve been grappling with the question: How can we start the journalistic process with the outcomes needed and wanted by citizens and their communities and then backfill the appropriate information, representation, convening, and action? It’s the opposite today: We, the journalists, think you should know this. No, what if we could listen to what people actually need. After Sandy, it would have been easy to understand my needs in NJ: lists of closed streets and open Starbucks and help in yelling at my town and utility to get more information on my behalf. Instead, media gave me articles because that’s what they are built to manufacture. That’s no service at all.

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