Yahoo’s news

Xeni Jardin takes on Yahoo’s news ethics in an LA Times opinion piece, first on their behavior in China and then — as I did — arguing that by hiring Kevin Sites to cover wars, they are turning news into entertainment, they are going just for the bloody bits.

But what’s really behind this is the same question raised by Bill Keller of the NY Times, below, and sloughed off by Terry Semel of Yahoo last week:

Is Yahoo in the news business? Xeni says yes and so their behavior is journalistically unethical. Keller seems to say no because news is just a boutique to them. Semel says no because he doesn’t want to be in trouble.

We all get in trouble if we define journalism too narrowly, especially when the medium that Yahoo depends upon opens up journalism to all, to anyone who finds out information and now can inform the world. If we try to limit the defniition, then we’ll find government trying to limit rights and protections to the few — with the power to take it away from them. If we try to limit the definition, then some people will try to argue that they don’t have to worry about ethics and trust. Funny, people said that’s why we have to worry about bloggers. But it seems we have to worry about big, new media companies, instead.