Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Does Arianna really need the money?

Another great one via Yellowdog Granny!

NPR asks a question I am also asked from time to time: Is Writing Online Without Pay Worth It? I usually answer, well, is listening to music worth it? Is TV worth it? Are movies worth it? Is any form of entertainment "worth it"? Obviously, the intrinsic "worth" of these activities depends on who you are and what you enjoy. And let's face it, if one enjoys writing, we are basically entertaining ourselves by blogging. It's very nice to have readers and to feel appreciated, but many of us would do it even if we didn't have any (and have gone for long periods with negligible numbers of readers/feedback).

My late mother, a singer, used to tell me that the world was filled with good singers and good writers, so get used to it. She was right, and I have.

But the NPR piece pointedly reminds us who benefits from our work, for whatever reasons we decide to do it (hint: not us):

Last week, AOL agreed to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million. The sale will undoubtedly make some people rich.

But David Carr, the media columnist for The New York Times, posed this observation in his column on Monday: "The funny thing about all these frothy millions and billions piling up? Most of the value was created by people working free."

Thousands of unpaid writers' work fills the Internet — on websites and social networking platforms.

"As we all twitter away and type away and update our Facebooks, we're creating the coal that sort of fires this oven," Carr tells NPR host Renee Montagne. "And they continue to own the land."
Aye, that's kinda brutal.

What to do?

Sree Sreenivasan tells Renee Montagne of NPR that the important thing in the ongoing media-upheaval is to "stand out":
In a very crowded Internet space where there's so many voices, I think the voices that have some specific point of view, as well as, you know, a reputation that they've built online or elsewhere are going to stand out. And this is - can be a development seen for better or for worse, but that's the situation. So you're seeing that the importance of being able to standout among many, many voices, commentary is one way to go.
I suppose so, but as many of you already realize (since you are on the net reading blogs, and you are here reading mine)--any fool can "stand out"--and some online folks have sold their souls to "stand out" as surely as any rock star ever did. Bloggers traffic in eyeball-time and numbers of page-views/hits, and if an ugly brawl or something dirty brings the traffic? Well, who cares, it's still traffic and it still translates into popularity.

My question is, who is going to do the "real" journalism? Meaning, who will "pound the pavement" and do all that is necessary (and time-consuming) to bring us FACTS and news stories from "on the scene"? Many bloggers try hard and perform splendidly, but simply don't have the resources and/or connections to follow stories around as a paid journalist can.

And why IS mainstream journalism on the skids? What is it about commentary that is so intoxicating to us, vs those boring old 'facts'? Are 'facts' in jeopardy, as a result?

Is it going to be harder and harder to find out what is REALLY going on? Will there be more and more words (from bloggers and TV-busybodies) spilled over fewer and fewer available facts?

What do you think?


sheila said...

I think you are absolutely right and it's incredibly sad. :o(
Spoken by one who works hard for no pay. :o)

Anonymous said...

i see more 'facts' -info over load- but nobody in position 2 check out if 100 % accurate & no background why, how, ect.

this is why ppl choose 2 read 'commentary' to explain info over load.

Ariana Huff = sell out

Renee said...

I love writing a blog. It is hard work and I don't make a living wage doing it. I was not happy to see Arianna make a profit from the sale of Huffpo because all I could think about are all of the writers that don't get paid. They write for Huffpo in exchange for exposure.

I think issues of race, class, disableism, and sexuality have a significant impact on those who are successful blogging, and by that I mean those that are able to make a living wage. At the rate it is going blogging is not going to be something that is done by many because to be successful, you basically have to commit to it on a full-time level and I can think of few who have this ability without being financially well off.

chaos said...

Daisy, I liked this article over at Truthout about an educated and informed electorate.

You were so right to protest in the 80's. Thanks for doing it.

Danny said...

And why IS mainstream journalism on the skids? What is it about commentary that is so intoxicating to us, vs those boring old 'facts'? Are 'facts' in jeopardy, as a result?
I don't think the facts themselves are in jeopardy but its more of the way the facts are delivered that in jeopardy. The old heads of mainstream journalism don't like the fact that they don't control the distribution of the facts anymore. And that's not even counting the fact that bloggers like us are bring up facts that the old heads would rather not have come to light.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Chaos, thank you for saying so, I needed that today. Great article, and I had forgotten so much of that.

Yes, Reagan was into empire building, and once you figure this out, all of his actions make sense. Unlike, say, Dubya, he was guided by an actual philosophy, which is how we got perpetually stuck with (example) a Randian like Alan Greenspan.

He promised to transform the country, and he did. He ruined it. You can lay most of the blame there. Nixon looks like a moderate by comparison, but wasn't likable at all. (And they were both crooks; the Iran-Contra scandal made that clear enough.)

www.cadiz-3d.com said...

There's no doubt, the guy is completely right.