Journalism In the Digital Era: It’s for Chumps

Man, this is the kind of stuff that can ruin your day. Ruin your year, for that matter.

The short version is that a Washington Post reporter wrote a story, meaning he spent hours tracking down sources, traveling to talk to the sources, checking and re-checking facts, and then, ya know, writing the story. Only to have the entire thing “stolen” by a site called “Gawker,” which specializes in gossip and fluff, with, in effect, no attribution to the original source.

Gawker gets a free story. The WaPo reporter gets, well, nuthin’. Journalism in the age of the internet: Chumpsville.

Although, of course, the WaPo reporter was able to mine the story of the stolen story for another story, the one I linked to above. It’s worth reading, because it digs into how/why this can/will affect the future of news.

So hey, go read it. Quick, before Gawker swipes it, too.

2 thoughts on “Journalism In the Digital Era: It’s for Chumps

  1. Hmm. I’m conflicted on a few levels here, mostly because I don’t know whose side I’m supposed to be on. If they copied enough, shouldn’t it fall into existing copyright law? Of course, that’s messed up enough as it is right now, but it seems like with the Disneys of the world trying to make originators’ rights absolute there wouldn’t be a problem. But I’m admittedly ignorant of the specifics of the law.At first I was prepared to say ‘so what?’ but it seems like in this case the excerpted article went a bit further than it should have. I read Gizmodo and Lifehacker (Gawker-owned sites) and they frequently give a paragraph or two about something written on another site, then link to it. I either say ‘that sounds interesting, but not enough to read all of it’ and move on or click the link and go to the original story. So, essentially, if I was going to read the story in the first place they just got another hit from the Gawker site, and if not then they didn’t lose anything. This does seem like more, though, and so the WP should expect something. I think newspapers are still using the Underwear Gnome business model:1. Build a website2. ???3. ProfitI don’t know; I think I had a lot more steam when I clicked ‘comment.’ This is something I’m interested in, though, and my view is going to be different from yours as I’m ‘Guy who really likes writing but doesn’t expect anyone to pay him for it,’ which means more people reading is a good thing.

  2. I love the “Underwear Gnome” biz model! What a hoot.But your last point is one I wish everyone “got”: People who write for the sake of writing definitely see this differently than people who want to get paid for it. The cliched analogy is the doctor/plumber: you wouldn’t expect either one of them to do work for free, so why are writers treated differently?And I think your point extends on to readers as well. My experience has been that most readers simply don’t understand that the content — the stuff they like reading — requires some effort on the part of the “content provider.”Ditto, however, for people who listen to music. Why in the world should Mick Jagger or anyone else hand the stuff over for free? (Answer: He shouldn’t!)But as usual, I’m rambling….

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