Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Triple -J?

I'm starting to consider renaming my blog Jeff Jarvis is a Jerk (the triple J?)
What is offensive about Jarvis and his ivory tower assertions (it figures that one of the media's chief journalism biz pundits hails from academia) is not that he heralds the end of print. If that's your opinion (and it's a common one) that's fair. What's insulting to journalists everywhere is his criticism of the profession. Note this statement in a recent posting criticizing those who say Google should pay newspaper for posting, in total, the work journalists produce in small newspapers that gets picked up by the Associated Press

* Make Google pay. This one assumes that newspapers have a God-given right to the income they used to get from advertising and that Google (and craigslist and eBay and papers’ own customers with their own, free web sites, for that matter) stole it from the papers and thus are starving journalism. Show me where that commandment is written. Others competed with lazy, monopolistic newspapers, giving the marketplace a better service. Google and the rest owe them nothing. Indeed, newspapers should be paying Google for its distribution and promotion, as Google is the new newsstand and content gains value with links.
Shame on us for assuming that well-researched news stories that are vital to an informed public have intrinsic value. And newspapers are "lazy," while others competed, giving the marketplace a better service. How? When a bunch of computer geeks build an better Internet mouse trap to repackage the work of real journalists while doing absolutely NO original reporting, that's industrious competition??? And shame on us for thinking they should pay.
Jarvis' rejoinder, no doubt, is that his criticism is aimed at the business institutions behind newspapers and not the individual journalists. But journalists know we can't ply our trade covering one beat on one blog. Some sort of organization is needed. In the past, newspapers have provided that organization. In a newspaperless future, some Internet organization will provide that organization. The consumer loves the elegant simplicity that clearinghouses provide. If Google is that clearinghouse, fine. But I doubt Google has much interest in paying me to cover my city council. How lazy and monopolistic is that?

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