K5 has replaced my daily newspaper, but mainly because it's expensive as hell to get a real paper, like the Washington Post, all the way out here in airheaded California. And no, the SF Comical doesn't quite make the cut as a replacement. But I'm not real happy about it.
For me, K5 and the mass media serve different purposes. The media is good at telling stories, so when you need the basic facts presented in a generally linear, comprehensible fashion, you ought to go to a newspaper. But the "storytelling" form of news, while good at getting you up to speed on the basics of an issue, is not very good at getting to the "truth" of the issue. The truth, in the context, is usually just the set of interactions a particular issue raises with people's lives, with what we thought we knew before, and with what we plan and expect in the future. No one person can get at the totality of this, which is where collaborative media comes in.
I learn a lot more about where things really stand right now by reading comments here than by reading the stories in a newspaper. Does a story really matter, or is it just the hot fluff of the moment? Do people care about this? Does it hit them, and if so, where? Do people with specific knowledge in the field or issue agree or disagree with the common perception? Good reporting can get at some of this, but not all of it, and too often, standard news reporting doesn't even bother to try (I'm looking right at the TV news networks here).
[...The following was going to be a footnote, but frankly, it's way more interesting than whatever I was going to say above, so I'll just let it hijack the rest of this comment...]
A note about terminology: I hate the phrase "peer to peer". It's another catchall buzzword that has a useful lifespan of maybe 6 more months. You'd have thought we'd have gotten over this after "push technology" died an ugly death. Since I don't care much about napster, gnutella, or freenet, and I don't think we have much in common with them, I prefer the term "collaborative media" to describe the phenomenon of sites like us, Slashdot, and even the weblog movement. Even individual weblogs usually operate within a larger context, responding to each other and building off what others write, and I see them acting a lot like a distributed version of what goes on here.
The crucial difference is that "P2P" implies that I'm talking at you, and you're talking at Bob, and Bob is talking at someone else. But that's not really what we're doing. A story and it's comments, here, at Slashdot, or anywhere that uses this model, builds into a totality. It's not necessarily a "consensus"; the totality of information can just as easily be contradictory, confusing, or incoherent, but it is thing, constructed together, by a lot of different people. It's a collaboration, something like Gilles Deleuze's "multiplicity"; a thing that is entirely composed of other things, and is always changing, adding, adjusting the relations between it's parts, each time becoming a whole new thing.
I see the traditional media as being much more of a "Peer to peer" media: a reporter, talking to me. There's no one else involved, just us two. I would also call it the "distributive media". It's focused on creating, packaging, and moving a media "product" (distributing "content") into my eyes, ears, and brain [c.f. Doc, whom I'm wholesale ripping off here].
What we and others are really doing here is collapsing the creative apparatus into the distributive apparatus (and vice versa, there's no real primacy of one over the other). The same browser that you read K5 on is what you write K5 on, and the two are both going on all the time. There's no "create, package, distribute" cycle -- just a constant flow of all three, mashed together, influencing and intersecting each other. Calling it peer-to-peer is a big mistake, practically a reversal of what's meaningful about it. Although it shouldn't be that surprising, since it's the distributive media that are calling it that. :-)
This might have the seedlings of a story in it somewhere...
Not the real rusty