The Golden Link

Thomson Reuters digital boss Chris Ahearn stands up in favor of the link economy (as opposed to someone else we know). It’s sensible talk and he suggests we have more such talk about how best to link. I agree.

As soon as I can, I’ll set a date in October to hold a symposium on the link economy and to present the work of the New Business Models for News Project at CUNY. Also I’ll set up a conversation space at CUNY’s site to discuss the link economy as Ahearn suggests; it will be up later today at wiki.newsinnovation.com. Stay tuned.

Here’s what Ahearn had to say (and I’ll bet he won’t mind my quoting a lot of it):

Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.

A better approach is to have a general agreement among community members to treat others’ content, business and ideas with the same respect you would want them to treat yours.

If you are doing something that you would object to if others did it to you – stop. If you don’t want search engines linking to you, insert code to ban them.

I believe in the link economy. Please feel free to link to our stories — it adds value to all producers of content. I believe you should play fair and encourage your readers to read-around to what others are producing if you use it and find it interesting.

I don’t believe you could or should charge others for simply linking to your content. Appropriate excerpting and referencing are not only acceptable, but encouraged. If someone wants to create a business on the back of others’ original content, the parties should have a business relationship that benefits both.

Let’s stop whining and start having real conversations across party lines. Let’s get online publishers, search engines, aggregators, ad networks, and self-publishers (bloggers) in a virtual room and determine how we can all get along. I don’t believe any one of us should be the self-appointed Internet police; agreeing on a code of conduct and ethics is in everyone’s best interests.

Our news ecosystem is evolving and learning how it can be open, diverse, inclusive and effective. With all the new tools and capabilities we should be entering a new golden age of journalism – call it journalism 3.0. Let’s identify how we can birth it and agree what is “fair use” or “fair compensation” and have a conversation about how we can work together to fuel a vibrant, productive and trusted digital news industry. Let’s identify business models that are inclusive and that create a win-win relationship for all parties.

This is not code for some hidden agenda – it is an open call for collective problem solving. Let’s do it wiki-style and edit it in the public domain. Let’s define the code of conduct and ethics we would all like to operate under.

My suggestion is we start with “do unto others” as our guiding spirit – I bet it would make all of our mothers proud.

  • Eric Gauvin

    Excellent. Seems like you’re quoting each other…

    I still don’t think “the link economy” means anything. I think you’re just saying “the web is an indispensable business tool” which is a really basic concept. Big deal.

  • Robert Levine

    We already have the “link economy,” and it’s an oligarchy governed by Google in which everyone who produces original content gets poorer. It’s not an economy that helps journalists – just ask the ones in Ann Arbor, who are making less than they were before. Let’s replace it with an economy that works for a large number of journalists, not a small number of network owners.

    • Eric Gauvin

      It’s like a link toll booth that everyone must pass through to go anywhere….

      • Andy Oresto

        >>it’s an oligarchy governed by Google in which everyone who produces original content gets poorer.

        This isn’t exactly the fault of Google; rather, the result of connectivity and technology advancement. It next to impossible to contain widely distributed digital media, and I think this is the heart of the matter. What are our ideas and words worth anymore? In the traditional sense, a journalist was a guru of sorts, investigating the crevices of the world and bringing fresh knowledge and stories about our interests; now… with the ability for people to publish (just about anyone, anywhere computer access, the ability to write, and something to share); now that they have the ability to reach the masses and express an idea, a feeling an epiphany–this dissolved the barriers to entry. Editors need not pay for content anymore because the free exchange of ideas and expertise offered by individuals in a “glory moment” of their intellectual lives, is giving plenty of interesting content for the casual reader who don’t live by the traditional standards of journalism. So where does that leave the journalist these days?… they must target an audience, vie for their attention and hope that their writing is followed enough to drive ad revenue back to themselves.

    • Andy Freeman

      > We already have the “link economy,” and it’s an oligarchy governed by Google in which everyone who produces original content gets poorer.

      When folks stopped buying newspapers because Craigslist did classifieds better and cheaper, we found out that folks didn’t value news as much as newspapers thought. Google didn’t do that.

      What Google (search) does is expose content to competition. You’re free to charge whatever you like, but you’re going to lose biz to folks who provide equivalent content for less. (If you think those other folks are stealing your content, your beef is with them, not Google. Of course, “your content” is a matter of some dispute. Levine has argued that the first news organization to publish that MJ had died “owned” that story and that other news organizations should not have been allowed to report “TMZ says MJ is dead.”.)

      > Let’s replace it with an economy that works for a large number of journalists, not a small number of network owners.

      Newsflash – it isn’t about journalists or Google, it’s about customers. (And, for all the “you’ll miss us when we’re gone”, they’re saying “good riddance”. That’s not Google’s fault.)

      If Levine doesn’t want customers to be able to use Google to find his content, he can block Google today. But, what then?

      Maybe he can convince customers to go directly to his site to find his content.

      An alternative is for “professional content” organizations and individuals who are unhappy with Google to block Google and make arrangements that they prefer with either a competing search engine or with one that they set up. If they get a critical mass, customers will follow.

      This will let them have the search engine advertising revenue that they seem to think that they’re owed, at least wrt news.

      There are several search engines that would jump at the chance to have an exclusive on news content. And, it’s not that hard to build one given the talent that is currently “on the beach” and the available free software, especially the Lucene/Hadoop stuff.

      Of course, there’s still that “content competition” problem.

      Of course, this isn’t new, and won’t satisfy Levine. He sees Google making money and he thinks that he’s owed.

      • Eric Gauvin

        >>If Levine doesn’t want customers to be able to use Google to find his content, he can block Google today. But, what then?

        News flash, (as you said) it isn’t about google…

        Don’t you think it’s an overimplification to characterize charging for content as banning links?

      • Andy Freeman

        > Don’t you think it’s an overimplification to characterize charging for content as banning links?

        I didn’t characterize charging for content as banning links. In fact, I said that they were independent with “What Google (search) does is expose content to competition. You’re free to charge whatever you like, but you’re going to lose biz to folks who provide equivalent content for less.”

        There are two issues.

        One can let Google index stuff that’s behind a pay wall. However, when folks try to visit that content from a Google result page, they’re still likely to back out and go where they can get that content without a direct payment. And the next time they see your url on a result page, they won’t click to your site if they remember what happened last time. This avoidance will push your site down Google’s search page until you become invisible.

        This goes to Levine’s complaint that other folks are willing to charge less than he wants to make. Google enables that by making it easier for folks to find “cheap” content.

        As long as Google is willing to index free sites, avoiding competition means that Levine must present his content elsewhere.

        The other issue is that Levine believes that Google should “revenue share” the ads that Google shows on its results page if that page incluces links to his content. (Other folks think that they’re entitled to a revenue share even for results pages that doesn’t link to their content.)

        Google seems unwilling to revenue share. Again, Levine’s option is to keep Google from getting any revenue from providing links to Levine’s content.

  • Robert Levine

    Incidentally, a quote of this many words in such a short piece would definitely not be considered fair use by any court decision that I’ve seen.

    • B.Nelson

      My, you and Eric certainly are consistent… and repetitive.
      ——————-
      BTW:

      http://newsinnovation.com/2009/08/05/the-golden-link/
      chris ahearn
      05. Aug, 2009

      Jeff – Nope don’t mind you quoting me one bit. Also will reach out to work with you and others on this.

      Chris

      —–

      • Rob Levine

        Unless Chris’ employment agreement gives him, rather than Reuters, copyright to what he writes, it’s not his to give. Legally, this would be the equivalent of me giving Jeff the computer from my office.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      But Chris had no problem with it because his interest was spreading what he said. Imagine that: wanting to deliver substance.

      • Eric Gauvin

        The part that sucks about this is that the main reason you’re “spreading what he said” is because he’s “spreading what you said.”

        That’s what sucks MOST about the internet right now.

        In addition, the default mechanism (google) to sift through all this b.s. is a monstrosity with enormous overhead for collecting advertising revenue at every turn.

  • cliff barney

    there is no such thing as “journalism”; it’s an abstraction.

    there are however real journalists, and how they fare in the link economy needs to be addressed. i’m not saying they can’t do well; only that they are left out of the discussion.

  • Paul Evans

    From such toll booths was the French Revolution made. Are there any corollaries that can be drawn between the toll booths to Paris and paywalls for newspapers?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=97qls5TNm_8C&lpg=PA11&ots=XP0zVxJzKe&dq=toll%20roads%20to%20paris%20french%20revolution&pg=PA11#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    Also, riffing on the toll booth theme, I do know a few people who will drive miles out of their way in order to avoid toll roads. How does one make sure there are no free routes that will get people to the same destination. And if there are free roads, what happens to those charging tolls?

    I also would like an economy that works for a large number of journalists. I am largely self-serving in this — I am a working journalist. But I’m not sure my wanting things to be a certain way will make them that way.

  • http://www.erictyson.com Eric Tyson

    FT Editor: News Sites Will Charge Access Within One Year

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/277046

    • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

      My favorite line from that article:

      ‘This speech comes the same week after Digital Journal reported that the CEO of ask.com said that the “era of online content is coming to an end.”’

      *Your* content, perhaps- if you put it behind a subscription wall.

      And don’t get me started on a pay-per-article model, a la iTunes. When I buy a song on iTunes I’m going to listen to that song hundreds of times, if not more. News, on the other hand, is ephemeral by its very nature. There’s no way in hell I’m going to pay for digital fishwrap, and aside from a handful of devotees who can’t live without their NYT or WSJ no one else is going to either. We’ll aggregate our news from those outlets that don’t drink Rupert Murdoch’s Kool-Aid and brick themselves off from the link economy, thank you very much.

      That media conglomerates have convinced themselves that this is even a viable option is a clear indicator that they are absolutely clueless.

  • http://eskimon.wordpress.com/ eskimon

    It feels like news providers have become distracted somewhere. They are all caught up in trying to fix the model they’ve build over the past few hundred years, instead of thinking about how to profitably deliver the core benefit that their customers – both readers and advertisers – are looking for.

    It may sound like pure provocation, but I believe that newspapers no longer offer value. That doesn’t mean they don’t offer benefit; it means that the costs involved for both reader and advertiser can no longer be justified, considering that almost all the benefits they offer are available more cheaply (free) or in a superior form elsewhere.

    While some (the FT, the Economist, perhaps the NYT) are managing to deliver acceptable profits between their offline and online versions, their models still feel like a compromise.

    Is it because they have become too entangled in introspective analysis? Have they lost sight of the things their customers want or need?

    I’ve elaborated this argument more here: http://eskimon.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/newspapers-are-dead-long-live-news/

    I’d love to hear your opinions.

  • Eric Gauvin

    Back to your “the link economy” idea…

    I don’t think there’s anything to do with the economy here. True, the foundation of the internet is links. That’s fine.

    Links increase traffic, but even traffic doesn’t correlate with revenue (unless you assume advertising is attached to everything).

    If anything what you refer to as “the link economy” should be called “the advertising internet”

    Back to news and “the link economy,” it’s not necessarily the “free-ness” of news that makes it impossible for the large, mainstream news organizations to charge for content. Ubiquitous free content already existed with tv and radio for a long time. It’s the convenience of access. Something doesn’t necessarily need to be free (monetarily) to be convenient. In some situations print is very convenient (for example, reading on the beach). Also, what I would call “reading pleasure” is also a huge factor. I think there’s room for innovation in terms of reading pleasure on screen. Devices like Kindle are a sign of that.

    I know you think I’m attacking you or something, but you’ve made bold statements about a fundamental shift in our economy and it is clearly based on this concept of “the link economy,” so I think you should be able to explain it clearly. My understanding so far is that it’s a somewhat poetic way of saying “the web is an indispensable business tool” which is not such a profound statement and can’t necessarily support your argument that the economy is undergoing a profound and fundamental shift.

    • Andy Freeman

      > If anything what you refer to as “the link economy” should be called “the advertising internet”

      Not at all. Advertising isn’t the only way to monetize.

      However, links are the core. Links are how people get to your content. What happens then is up to you.

      Some people think that they should be able to control whether someone else can link to their content. They argue that a link “steals” their content. They’re wrong. The only question is whether they’re lying or ignorant.

      Note that they can easily stop search engines from linking to their content. For all their bluster about “stealing”, they don’t do that. Is that due to ignorance or does it prove that they’re lying about more than the above suggests?

      Note that the “link economy” isn’t new. Folks have been citing other folks for centuries. The only thing new is that some links are more easy to follow these days.

      • Andy Oresto

        What concerns me is the job losses in newspapers is primarily affecting it’s content providers, who are caught in the swarm of evolution over the past 15 years. The change has been so rapid newspapers seem to have been experiencing there demise before they even new what hit them. It’s only going to get worse with time.

        I believe part of what may be happening here, is that with so many writers on the market who are passionate about what they do, have no problem blogging and providing expert content when out of the job. This accelerate the “free” content being provided to web sites putting more and more pressure on traditional business models.

        By adapting to the “link economy” the businesses who are successful will hopefully in turn see value in hiring content providers, who increase traffic to their sit. As it stands, the free content available is of a high enough quality to detract subscribers… but as sites develop and compete for free business, it is the sites who pay content providers for the highest quality content who win. We are likely to see competition for quality going forward and this will bode well for journalist in general. Until that time things will remain difficult.

      • Andy Freeman

        > What concerns me is the job losses in newspapers is primarily affecting it’s content providers, who are caught in the swarm of evolution over the past 15 years.

        Is that true?

        Are more than half of the folks at today’s newspapers “content providers”? Or, are there more delivery folk, printers, advertising sales folk, managers, and so on?

        When a newspaper goes on line, doesn’t the fraction of CP’s employed go up? (Yes, they may have fewer CPs in total, but they get rid of almost everything else.)

  • Robert Levine

    >>>Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.

    I’m sorry to repeat myself, but I keep reading this and I can’t help but think that Chris has absolutely no idea what happened to the music business, what the music business tried to do about it, or how that worked. If he believes that “do unto others” will work on the Internet, I think it’s fair to say that he hasn’t been looking at The Pirate Bay, a for-profit, ad-supported content piracy site funded by a major contributor to the Swedish right-wing party. They took advantage of legal loopholes to build a business that makes millions on stolen goods.

    While Chris’ naive techno-utopianism might help win him admiration from Jeff, an invitation to Davos and a temporary boost in his stock price, it will be an absolute disaster for his company.

  • Paul Evans

    The following link provides an in-depth explanation of how the link economy works.

    http://www.yieldsoftware.com/2009/07/understanding-the-link-economy/

    Jarvis has explained his vision of it numerous times on this blog. Searching Google I can find those citations and, while they aren’t exactly a dictionary definition, they are pretty explanatory. Maybe other search engines can find them, too.

    Eric’s poetic metaphor doesn’t come close to what Jarvis and others have said repeatedly about the link economy. Anyone can dispute the concept, definition or actual function of the link economy. But to say it hasn’t been explained clearly leaves me scratching my head. What constitutes clearly?

    As for the fundamental shift in the economy, I feel obliged to quote Pvt. Hudson: “Maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

    Once again, we can discuss and dispute the whys and wherefores, but I don’t think many intelligent people can argue that the economy isn’t “undergoing a profound and fundamental shift.” This shift isn’t just affecting the newspaper industry. The link economy, which most suggest is integral to the function of the internet, is affecting book stores, groceries, shoe salesmen, lawyers, doctors, politicians and government. Any business that used to charge a premium for a commodity or rely on scarce information is feeling something.

    I work in the newspaper industry and over the past year-plus we have gotten our assess kicked by the internet and the shift to a link economy. We can argue about whether it’s fair, whose fault it is, and if we can turn back the clock with paywalls or other schemes. Maybe if we can reset everything to 1955 we can even discuss whether there has been a profound and fundamental shift in the economy. But from where I’m sitting, it looks not only profound and fundamental, but also permanent.

    • Eric Gauvin

      Your link doesn’t provide any new information (it just sounds like someone parroting Jarvis).

      Just to clarify, I’m not saying I don’t understand what Jeff Jarvis is driving at as much as I am clarifying and pointing out that it is just a bogus catchphrase and unneeded hype. Everybody knows website traffic is good.

      Also, Jarvis oversimplifies the case for charging for content as opting out of the mythical link economy entirely. This is a ridiculous argument coming from someone of Jarvis’ stature.

      • Paul Evans

        You didn’t ask for new information, you asked for an explanation of the link economy. The article does that.

        And don’t you feel better now that we all understand that you understand what Jarvis is saying, you simply disagree with him in a number of ways. However, you are over-simplifying the position staked out by Jarvis and the article to which I linked when you sum it up as: “Everybody knows website traffic is good.” I read that and thought: This guy could work for the web people at my place and they are helping to destroy the company. If you read the article I cited, you would see that it quite clearly and on numerous occasions says that not all website traffic is good; or at least that all website traffic isn’t equal (some is better than others). But that is only one small piece of the link economy.

        Perhaps an area where we can agree is the sense that the link economy may not be big enough or robust enough to support many entities such as newspapers. There is an issue of critical mass that comes into play before the link economy starts to deliver dollars rather than cents. Oddly, that may not be such a big worry for the news entities at either end of the spectrum — at least initially. The NYTimes and WSJ may be able to throw up a paywall of some kind and survive. Likewise, the little dailies and weeklies — many of which have largely ignored the internet until now — may continue to have decent revenue off their print product and/or charge people to see their stuff online. There is loads of evidence backing that. Where the link economy appears to be coming up short is for city dailies — especially those that are regional metros (LA Times, SF Chron, Philly Inquirer, etc.). There may not be enough link love to pay their freight and, almost certainly, if they throw up a paywall they’re dead.

        Charging for content is not the same as opting out of the link economy, in some cases. It seems we both concur on that as well. However, when someone sends me a link to an NYT or WSJ story and I hit their registration wall — I’m done. Washington Post as least allows me to use my Facebook account to get in, so I will do that. But if any ask me to pay for the privilege of reading them then I have other things on which to spend my money. Quite frankly, if I am interested in what they are writing about, I can probably ferret out the background or source material on the web. That or wait for CNN, BBC, ABC or some other non-newspaper site to do a follow-up. Heck, there’s loads of places I can find what AP regurgitates.

        So, sure, Jarvis is over-simplifying his case when it comes to paywalls. But the link economy isn’t mythical and it has yet to be proved that many news entities can survive without full participation. Perhaps we are about to find out regarding the latter. Murdoch doesn’t own just the WSJ, he also has the NY Post. It will be interesting to see if they fare the same under his scheme.

        But back to those metros, many of which are deeply in debt and/or bleeding money like slaughtered pigs. Say they take the same tack and start charging people to read them online. The immediate reaction will be a loss of audience. Most predictions are it could cost them more than 90 percent of their online audience out of the gate. If they stick to it — along with everyone else — then eventually a significant portion of that audience may come back. The question is how much and how long will it take. My expectation, based on reader reaction to a nickel hike in new-stand prices at my place a while back, is the return migration will take years (I’m guessing 2-5). For most of these foundering metros that’s about 2-5 years too long.

        Me, I don ‘t look forward to it. I’m pushing 50. I’ve devoted 30 years to newspapers and consider them very valuable, even when they are as poorly run as most newspapers are these days. But I don’t believe turning the clock back will save the day. I believe that many of these newspapers could be working much harder at the link economy and other avenues. It might not be enough, but most of them — mine included — are spending all of their time, money and energy on a way-back machine. What are they going to do when that fails?

        Perhaps we can both agree on the likely outcome to that, as well.

      • Eric Gauvin

        Yes. I asked for new information in the form of a reliable definition of “the link economy.” Sorry for sounding like a nut case, but to be frank, the reason I’m asking Jarvis to define precisely what he means by “the link economy” over and over, is that I don’t think he has a definition. I’m really saying that it’s just bogus hype that sounds great in a PowerPoint presentation. But thanks for trying. What you were describing really sounds like search engine optimization and the general benefits of increased website traffic.

  • Pingback: Three Cheers for Ahearn « Wir sprechen Online.

  • A.Newman

    Reality check:

    Reuters actually charge for the vast majority of their content – which is financial news that you won’t even find on the web. That is what makes money for Reuters – stories that move markets, data that people in finance need. You don’t even know about this because – well, its real-time media sent on a private network that you don’t have access to because you don’t need it or you can’t pay for it.

    Reuters has a team of quality, well-trained, expert financial journalists who you will have never heard of.

    Reuters are playing a clever game by talking the web 2.0 talk and putting up blogs that say things that Jeff Jarvis and his followers will like – they are making sure they sound savvy about the web but in actual fact they, along with their rivals Bloomberg, are showing that people will pay for quality content that they actually NEED.

    Internet users who browse the news for leisure and fun won’t pay for their info – if they really want the news (when a major story breaks) they switch on the tv and get it fast.

    People who NEED news content and NEED it fast – will pay for it. Or in fact their companies will pay for it for them – which is how the likes of Reuters and Bloomberg make money and how scores of specialist magazines make money online.

    The internet isn’t changing capitalism – capitalism is changing the internet and it will produce a two tier system – those who can pay or NEED to pay – will get the quality relevant information they NEED delivered by professionals.

    Those who just enjoy browsing the web for whatever stuff they have a passing interest in – they will be able to do so for free.

    The question for newspapers is whether they have content that people really NEED. Some have such content and will successfully charge for it, some won’t and will eventually change.

    Blogs and the fantasy link economy have nothing to do with this.

    • Eric Gauvin

      “The question for newspapers is whether they have content that people really NEED. Some have such content and will successfully charge for it, some won’t and will eventually change.”

      I think there are huge opportunities to innovate that provide what I would describe as “reading pleasure.” Right now, news, blogs, twitter, google search results, etc. are dumped onto the internet in a very crude way.

  • Paul Evans

    I’m sure Jarvis has said this, but even if he didn’t: it is savvy to get people to pay for what they are willing to pay. The tricky part is figuring out what people will pay for. In all likelihood, the majority of people won’t pay for much. The paying audience will be small, yet they will be willing to pay a hefty premium for information that meets their interests or needs.

    The problem for newspapers is that they — in most cases — don’t generate that type of content. What newspapers — especially major metros — generate most is general interest stuff. In all likelihood most people will never pay much for this.

    It’s a sad commentary on our democracy that most people won’t pay to find out what their state or local government does. However, certain groups and associations might be willing to pay for information about what government is up to. I have argued at my place that we should market specialized publications to such groups, whether they are interested in specific industries or specific bills. Our business department might not generate much that most people would pay for, but they have the contacts and the background to write in-depth stuff on certain industries that while of no interest to our general readers might warrant a monthly subscription from groups interested in those industries.

    Whether that has anything to do with a link economy can be argued by brighter lights. But for my part I believe there is a link economy. It has made billions for a few and millions for others. But the hard truth is it may not make enough for my newspaper to continue paying me and my co-workers. Of course, given how ineptly my place has tried to tap that economy, we may never know what might have been. Only that it never was.

    • Andy Freeman

      > It’s a sad commentary on our democracy that most people won’t pay to find out what their state or local government does.

      Actually, we don’t know how many people will pay to find out what their state or local govt does because no one has offered that service.

      Look at your local newspaper. It has better coverage of high school sports than it does of public education. There’s a listing of who got arrested and convicted for what, and maybe some trial coverage, but nothing useful on law enforcement.

      And those sad cases are examples of the best coverage of local govt by newspapers.

      Readers don’t miss local papers because someone else is now providing classifieds and there wasn’t anything else worth reading.

  • Dennis D

    A Financial agreement on links would be difficult. Imagine how many people Drudge would be paying? How would a start up be able to navigate these numerous negotiations?

  • Andy Freeman

    > A Financial agreement on links would be difficult.

    I don’t have to get anyone’s permission to cite their work in a letter that they write or a book that I write. Newspapers have never asked anyone’s permission to cite other people’s work. Journals and the like regularly cite other people’s work.

    Why and how is a web site different? Note that all but one of my examples are professional/profit-making.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I am no longer engaging certain trolls. Life is too short.

  • cliff barney

    as someone who spent a dozen years writing for dailies, another dozen for print magazines, and a third dozen working online, i feel disrespected, as the saying goes, at having what i produced called “content.” you can abstract it that way, yes; but in doing so you leach out whatever made it unique and interesting. it’s just “content.” or, as a former editor of mine put it, something to keep the ads from bumping into each other.

    it took fifty years for reporters to get a living wage through the newspaper guild, and another fifty or so to price themselves out of the market. now there are soi-disant bloggers writing for free what i used to get first $60, eventually $600, then $1200 or more a week for doing, showing up five days a week at ridiculous hours, and writing (especially in the $60 days) stuff that i could not always see as worthwhile, but was frequently very useful. i served a function; i could be depended on to watch and report on a regular beat.

    now that we are in the era of free – free “content,” free links, free alleged news, i wonder who is going to pay anyone to perform the old journalistic tasks. today, for instance, as i read superficial stories about riots at health care meetings, i wait in vain for someone to dig into what is behind them; instead i get endless rehashes of what this or that partisan said about what happened.

    as a journalist, i am very much interested in the link model. but even more important, i think, is the eventual development of new news gathering and distribution models to replace the oligopolistic practices of today’s media owners. perhaps those thousands of out-of-work reporters and editors – and the new ones graduating from j-schools and finding no jobs – can come up with something that will give themselves a living wage – the same thing the guild fought for so long ago.

    • Andy Freeman

      > i wonder who is going to pay anyone to perform the old journalistic tasks. today, for instance, as i read superficial stories about riots at health care meetings, i wait in vain for someone to dig into what is behind them; instead i get endless rehashes of what this or that partisan said about what happened.

      That’s nostalgia for something that died long ago, before Google, before the Internet, if it ever existed.

      For as long as I can remember, journalists have taken sides and printed press releases. The former is forgivable, given honesty, but the latter keeps that from happening.

      The reason why journalists are less trusted than used car dealers has nothing to do with good behavior by used car dealers.

      Talk all you want about the promise of journalism, but when you say “you’ll miss us”, we remember that you never tried to keep that promise.

      I don’t know if it’s too late to change, but if you don’t ….

  • cliff barney

    beg pardon, i wasn’t talking about the “promise” of journalism, i was talking about what journalists actually did.

    the graf about taking sides and printing press releases shows a great misunderstanding about what journalists do. im not saying releases don’t get printed – more and more, as staffs are cut back, they do. but i assure you that on every paper i worked for, from the smallest, a 40,000 circ afternoon daily, to the largest, the new york daily news, a press release was treated as a news tip, to be checked, augmented, and used as one source among many for a story that may have taken a widely different tack than that of the original release.

    if it is “nostalgia” to remember when reporters actually reported, guess i’m guilty. but i don’t think it is, really.

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  • http://www.memurrehberi.com/ memurlar

    if it is “nostalgia” to remember when reporters actually reported, guess i’m guilty. but i don’t think it is, really.