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Steve Jobs fears Nation of Bloggers

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A free and open professional media is essential to democracy, Steve Jobs said yesterday at the All Things D conference.

"I don't want us to become a nation of bloggers myself. I think we need editorial more than ever right now.

"We have to get ways of people to start paying for this hard earned content... Anything that we can do to help the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other news gathering organisations to find new ways of expression, so they can afford to get paid, to keep their news gathering operations intact, I'm all for."

You may afford yourself an ironic chuckle at this point. The amateur Mac press is every bit as supine as its mainstream counterparts, and has more time to spend drooling.

Ironic too, because if Apple's lawyers had their way, the 'free' in 'free press' would take on an entirely new meaning. For example, journalists should be compelled to reveal their sources, if Apple asks.

Of course as with anyone who's trying to selling you something, the pitch is self-serving. Via the App Store, he has lucked upon a promising channel for persuading people to part with their money.

But fortunately for Jobs, on this question he's right, and the tide is turning in his favour. According to a recent Pew survey, 99 per cent of links in the most popular blogs were commentary on professionally-created stories with 80 per cent of the links pointing to just four sources, the Times, the Post, CNN and the BBC.

The iPad and iPhone do create enough artificial scarcity - you're paying for convenience, and thanks to the space this generates (I believe the buzzword is still 'attention', unfortunately), a bundle can be recreated.

The only wrinkle in this picture, as I pointed out a little while ago, is that newspapers may not be up to the challenge - the challenge being presenting us with fresh, interesting and well-written things every day that we'd never otherwise have thought of reading. Instead, they've responded to the abundance of news by ditching the people most likely to pique our interest - subject specialists and good writers - preferring to employ monkeys capable of little more than hitting Ctrl-V for paste, or condensing a Twitter feed.

But you can't blame Steve for that. ®

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