Aged News

David Carr’s musings on the fate of  The Boston Globe in today’s New York Times raise many questions about the creation of public discourse in the age of the blogosphere.  If newspapers are “aged news” as the Daily Show recently spoofed them, destined for the economic trash pile, where do we find the “authority” that creates an established view that can then be challenged?  Perhaps this is a slavishly binary perspective but in most fields of human inquiry, opinion is formed and evolves through an iterative process of continuous challenge to the status quo view.

This seems to be particularly true of corporate reputation, in which the famed customer savvy of company X (say, Starbucks, Home Depot) is changed by good business reporting into a less appealing portrait.  On the other side of the ledger, business journalists at “quality” publications have charted the return of company Y (say, IBM) back from the brink of disaster in the early 1990s.  We watched it happen, but we trusted The New York Times, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, etc., to explain and document the process.

Even as better quantitative metrics for corporate reputation emerge, most of us still hew to the idea that reputation grows through deposits in the reputation bank over time.  We have traditionally measured such deposits through business media coverage.  If this disappears, what becomes of  reputation?  Somehow, page rank in search engines and keyword sweeps of Technorati and Ice Rocket don’t seem adequate.  If we truly are losing the authority centers of leading newspapers and magazines, we need to reinvent reputation and how we measure it.

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