The basic notion behind a paywall is, “Journalism is expensive, therefore people should pay for it.” The notion ignores evidence to the contrary and locks in a mindset that believes the way we’ve always done it is the only way to do it. Paywall advocates are not innovators, and if you’re not an innovator in the fast-moving Digital Age, you’re dead.
And how does "citizen" journalism reach folks who don't have access to the Internet, or who are otherwise unmotivated to dig for information on whatever issues that might be of interest to them?
there's a huge amount of value in the traditional newspaper's investigative and editorial processes. I really don't want to be a dick, but it's starting to sound straight up ignorant at this point when blogs are put forward as some kind of alternative to traditional investigative reporting. You want the truth? The truth costs.
This represents a kind of magical thinking about the internet I don't quite understand. It's always some version of: "Internet-enabled disintermediation and piracy are killing off this [thing that is held to be important] in its current form, but by the power of the internet something else will spring up to take its place and it will be even better. Bloggers will cover complex local politics for free!
What's interesting about this to me is that this thinking is fundamentally not all that different from a certain kind of thinking about GM crops.
A 2008 review published by the Royal Society of Medicine noted that GM foods have been eaten by millions of people worldwide for over 15 years, with no reports of ill effects. Similarly a 2004 report from the US National Academies of Sciences stated: "To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population." The European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation 2010 report on GMOs noted that "The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies."
Gradually I believe, we have swallowed the message that profitability is the primary, perhaps the only, criterion for evaluating whether or not an institution or public service is of value.
How about town criers?
How about pub signs depicting signature animals? What about advertisements on papyrus? What about all the political marketing found on stone and other durable media in ancient ruins? Do you suppose the guys making that stuff were doing it for free?
Any time an argument is made for maintaining quality, the rebuttal seems to include an accusation of demonizing capitalism. I don't understand why this is.
Working with the financial, legal and other resources that blogs have? What about the obvious: Watergate.
"Handbills are recorded as being in existence from the 14th century onwards in Britain – and were used to publicise everything from wars to health concerns.
The opening of England's first public theatre in London in 1576 was announced with the use of handbills."
These were not people printing and distributing their own handbills, but rather paying others to do it for them. Others in the period would have employed street callers for similar purposes.
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