[Foundation-l] Murdoch newspaper websites to go paywall -opportunity for citizen journalism!

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Mon May 11 20:58:31 UTC 2009

Fred Bauder wrote:
> If things were different, they would be different. Right now Wikinews can
> serve as an aggregator of news first published elsewhere, but Google and
> Yahoo can do it better. We can do some original work, at our own expense.
> When and if the crisis affecting paper newspapers gets worse an
> opportunity may arise to fill a need not being adequately met. But that
> need can also be met by new newspapers or on-line sites, perhaps run by
> cooperatives made up of experienced laid-off journalists, unburdened by
> the heavy burden of debt, onerous labor contracts, and overhead costs
> existing newspapers labor under. They may be organized as non-profit
> corporations, perhaps subsidized by foundation or even government
> subsidies, think Amtrak...

I like the idea of having Amtrak subsidize the transportation costs of 
citizen journalists trying to get to their news sites.

I don't think it's a matter of "if" the newspaper crisis gets worse, but 
"when".  One of the big factors to turn people away from paper 
newspapers is the excess of advertising. Most of the flyers that come 
with a newspaper go straight into the <s>trash</s> recycling.  Good ads, 
if there be such a thing, just get lost in the pile of crap.  As is the 
case with the auto manufacturers, labor costs are not the most important 
factor in the collapse of newspapers; putting out a product that nobody 
wants is.

Paying for online news won't work either.  A person who wants to look at 
an issue in detail will want to compare different news sources, and 
won't want to pay for them all.  In many cases the best report may be in 
a publication that one would not otherwise need to ever look at.

You're right to say that Google and Yahoo are in a much better position 
to be aggregators.  That work can be done by clerks who just organize 
what they find elsewhere without any need to analyze what it's about.  
The Wikinewsies who perform an aggregating role are not citizen 
journalists; they're armchair journalists.

Failing newspapers means fewer journalists to go to where the news 
happens.  It increases the likelihood that we will depend more on 
homogenized syndicated news reports.  A military that embeds such 
journalists, for example, has a better control over the message being 
reported.  Getting a rounded analysis of an issue depends on there being 
more eyes to directly watch what is happening.  With many eyes on the 
job the predictable POV of any one pair becomes marginalized.


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