All great revolutions need great manifestos, and a group of influential German bloggers have delivered one, nailing their 17 theses on the future of journalism in the Internet age up in the most public of forums. Signed by 15 of Germany’s more popular online voices, the Internet Manifesto’s articles mostly take aim at old media doctrine, ranging from generalizations like “the Internet is different” to more specific notions like “Copyright becomes a civic duty on the Internet.”
All in all, the document is less a plan for the future and more a scathing rejection of old media’s obstinate refusals to accept that the Web is indeed a different medium than print, such as Rupert Murdoch’s assertion that the days of free news content on the Internet are over. Declaring “the Internet is a pocket-sized media empire,” the manifesto at its core asserts that the Web has given freedom to the masses like nothing else in history, eliminating the gatekeeping function once held so dearly by “heavy investments” like large media companies.
At the same time, the manifesto declares that journalism on the Web can be profitable; claiming “tradition is not a business model,” the document appeals to media companies to test and develop new models rather than to try to force the old ways on a new medium (take note, Rupert). Most poignantly, the manifesto insists the Internet makes journalism better, eschewing the inalterability of print for a fluidity that better mimics a continually changing world.
While short on specific solutions, the Internet Manifesto’s shots at old media quickly rankled the old guard in Europe. But, perhaps its strongest point was the one not written. After hitting the Web, the manifesto was disseminated around the globe instantly, garnering so many views its servers failed temporarily (you’ve got us there, print). Newspapers in Europe even picked up the story – on their Web sites.
Read the Internet Manifesto here.