Many people in the newspaper business, the same people who worried about the effects of competition like USA Today, missed the significance of the internet. For people with a professional outlook, it’s hard to understand how something that isn’t professionally produced could affect them-not only is the internet not a newspaper, it isn’t a business, or even an institution. There was a kind of narcissistic bias in the profession; the only threats they tended to take seriously were from other professional media outlets, whether newspapers, TV, or radio stations. This bias had them defending against the wrong thing when the amateurs began producing material on their own. Even as web sites like eBay and Craigslist were siphoning off the ad revenues that keep newspapers viable-job listings, classified ads, real estate-and weblogs were letting people like gnarlykitty publish to the world for free, the executives of the world’s newspapers were slow to understand the change, and even slower to react. How could this happen? How could the newspaper industry miss such an obvious and grave challenge to their business? The answer is the flip side of Howard’s obsession with USA Today and has to do with the nature of professional self-definition (and occasional self-delusion).
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (New York & London: Penguin Books, 2008), 56-57.