Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)

For those who don't regularly read The Washington Post, it's worth a visit to the Outlook section and a piece entitled "The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)" by Ian Shapira. It's a first-person tale of how online aggregators siphon content from publications that pay people to do the hard work of journalism.

It's also a lesson in economics. Following on my own comments from Friday, this story shows exactly why socially responsible journalism that requires initiative or enterprise ultimately is rendered an unprofitable investment for the organization that produced it - and, again, why socially responsible journalism is becoming exposed as a public good.

What's worse is that when you read this story, you can see how the news-production model that has helped sustain our democracy for a century (I know I'll get an argument on that premise, but let's just assume it is valid) is crumbling by the day - and how some people who call themselves journalists are helping.

When Shapira relayed his conversation with the Gawker reporter, I was reminded of the timeless quote from Joseph Stalin: "When we hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope."


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