Last week I suggested the idea of standard, commoditized news reporting as a utility, rather like electricity or water. It is essential to modern civilized life, yet rarely appreciated in itself. Standard straight up and down news reporting of parliament, the courts, media conferences and other public events might not be all that glamorous, but we sure as hell would notice the difference if it wasn’t there.

But the utility metaphor only gets us so far. Another way of thinking about what media organizations might be good in a world where anyone can publish is to think about other kinds of public assets. Such as roads, maps and the internet itself. These things enable us to do stuff that would otherwise be difficult or impossible.