Are the wires dead meat?

It wouldn't be news to say Jeff Jarvis is one of the most interesting people talking -- and writing -- about media.

Last week he proposed a new rule for newspapers: "Cover what you do best. Link to the rest."

it's a great concept -- disruptive as hell.

Jarvis didn't hone in on what this might do to wire services. But if I were AP, I'd be worried. If widely adopted, this makes the reason for having the Associated Press wires move from a "must have" to a "nice to have."

And we all know what happens in budgets to "nice to haves."

But the result could indeed be very good journalism. This is way beyond linking out, which Jarvis observes newspapers are becoming more comfortable with.

If aggregating news from other sources was the primary means of getting news from elsewhere, reputation becomes huge. And a site's usefulness to its users would be even more pivotal than it is today. National news might not be just what's on the wires.

Partial models are there -- even with a bunch of flaws -- in Digg, Netscape and Reddit, which are more mass media than niche. A story without national interest is unlikely to make the front page of these sites unless it's been gamed there.

This would allow newspapers to focus on covering their core communities like no others can.

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