Archive for October, 2013

29
Oct
13

there should be a new word for “writer/blogger”

October 29, 2013

Here’s an illustrative case of the continuing race to the bottom for journalism. The plagiarism language is appalling, but what about the job requirement of “making lists”??

Writer/blogger ad no longer shrugs at plagiarism. (From Poynter.org)

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29
Oct
13

nobody wants to pay me for sound arguments

October 28, 2013

Every once in a while, an article really bothers me. Here’s one, an op-ed in the New York Times, about why journalists should get paid: “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

I agree that good journalism has value and people should generally get paid for their work but Kreider gets it all wrong, showing once again that you use extremely problematic reasoning and still arrive at the right conclusion. Poor logic (ha). This article is symptomatic of the problem. If you make crap arguments and deploy conventional devices, then you cheapen your value. It starts with the headline, where you make a promise to the reader about your article’s content. This one references Marx (“Unite!”) but he’s not making a Marxist argument, he’s making a capitalist one. And to win his argument, he beats on a straw bogey (“The Man,” “they,” whoever they are) that denies payment – except inconveniently, he never acknowledges that it’s editors, many of whom are former reporters, who often seek free labor. Why? Because in a capitalist system, that’s what they do: maximize their profit, lower costs – and journalism participates fully in that system. And by posting substance-less declarations like this (“get paid!”), you’re actually making things worse. The notion that money is the only true value we should attach to journalistic endeavors should strike many journalists as offensive. Kreider tries to backtrack into a distinction about valueless art and the market economy, but journalism has always toed the line as a consumable commodity. The Internet pushed the demand into overdrive, and journalism responded with outlets like Buzzfeed. Our most popular news shows are comedy shows. Don’t blame the Internet for a collective failure of imagination. These might be entertaining, but they are not art. Are we surprised the market wants to pay less?

The example of his sister is really unfortunate and sloppy but if you do want to go in that direction and apply market logic, then you would draw parallels between our broken healthcare system including unnecessary procedures and medications and news outlets trying to manufacture news.

And don’t forget how we have all made information less valuable by giving away so much of it. We blog and we tweet and we post our lives on Facebook. If you retreat from serious journalism, as the industry has done, then you-are- saying more people are capable of this work. If you really want to improve journalists’ condition, it would be more useful to redefine value or you reshape the market. The kind of journalism that is prevailing struggles to argue it is providing a public service or strengthening civil society. On the other hand, did Edward Snowden ask for payment for his revelations? What is being done to encourage that kind of journalism? Unpaid labor is a systemic issue and getting a few bucks is hardly a sufficient remedy, as Kreider suggests; the question he should have asked is how much should different kinds of articles bring in? Or, why are social workers not paid well for helping people? Frankly, I think he’s making a plea to get paid because he’s making arguments for an industry that is losing its identity.

Also, he’s kind of a conceited pig – hard to make an argument about fairness when you’re self-absorbed and sexist.