Assignment: “In Praise of Scribes”

The modern point that Shirky is making by including the section “In Praise of Scribes” is one that I have heard several times since being admitted to the Journalism major: that it is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists to maintain their “professional” status. The way that Shirky wrote this was much more exciting and compelling than what I have been told in the past and he explained it in a way that I have never really thought of before.

The current status of journalism is very similar to the struggle of scribes to preserve their scribal traditions in the 1400’s. When Gutenberg invented the movable type in the middle of the 14th century, the landscape for scribes completely changed. The scribe was considered replaceable, because his job could now be done better and more efficiently than ever before.

The world of journalism is going through a similar transformation now with the evolution of blogging and other social media sites. The need for journalists has dwindled, which is apparent by the number of newspapers either going out of business or hemorrhaging money. I think in order to remain relevant and be successful in the journalism industry you have to embrace the change and become more adept at social media. One of the reasons scribes became expendable is because they ignored the change rather than embraced it. I feel like that was the point that Shirky was trying to make in the section “In Praise of Scribes.” If high profile journalists can’t embrace the change in the industry, they will soon become irrelevant.

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