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No, licensing journalists isn’t the answer (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
GigaOm ^ | September 7, 2011 | Mathew Ingram

Posted on 09/08/2011 6:23:31 AM PDT by abb

Is the media industry in turmoil? Clearly it is, with publishers fighting declines in circulation and advertising revenue, combined with competition from digital-native entities such as blog networks and the “democracy of distribution” that comes from social-media tools like Twitter and Facebook. Journalism itself is even said to be in jeopardy, or at least the journalism we are used to. So what’s to be done? Some are recommending journalists be licensed by some kind of official body, so we can get “real” journalism from professionals — but these kinds of solutions would create even worse problems than the ones they are trying to solve.

In a recent blog post about the TechCrunch affair, in which he describes the back-and-forth between founder Mike Arrington and AOL executives Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington over the fate of the blog network, Australian writer Aaron Holesgrove says we are “being cheated out of objective journalism.” Sites like TechCrunch, he argues, don’t really provide journalism at all, but just a series of opinionated (but informed) blog posts about the news. Says Holesgrove:

TechCrunch has never been a source of true journalism in the first place. It is a blog with opinionated and biased content featuring pieces about technology from an informed point of view. While their pieces are news in itself, they are not journalism.

Are bloggers journalists?

And what is journalism? Apparently, Holesgrove defines journalism as being solely the pursuit of and presentation of objective facts: something he doesn’t seem to think most bloggers are capable of. At one point, he describes All Things Digital writer Kara Swisher and TechCrunch writer Paul Carr as “journalists acting like bloggers,” but then adds later that he doesn’t think Carr is a journalist at all because he isn’t objective. After some more back-and-forth about TechCrunch, the author then comes to the conclusion that we have an “objective journalism problem.”

Much of this seems like confusion over what bloggers do and what journalists do, a debate that has been going on more or less since the blog as we know it was first invented. Are there journalists who write “objective” facts about events? Yes. Are there bloggers who do the same? Clearly there are. Are there journalists who write opinions about events or news? Yes — and there are plenty of bloggers who do the same. What distinguishes these two groups? Not much, except perhaps the publishing platform they use, or the name on the masthead of the entity they work for.

Holesgrove isn’t the only one trying to figure out what exactly the term “journalism” refers to, or should refer to: Dave Winer, who pioneered both blogging and programming tools like RSS and is a visiting scholar at New York University’s school of journalism, came up with his own definition after a recent debate with me (and others such as author and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis), and it too describes what most people would call “reporting” — something that’s arguably just a subset of what journalism refers to.

Chris Anderson, a media researcher and associate professor at the City University of New York, has also written about what journalism means in a digital era where publishing is as simple as the click of a mouse button. Does it just mean publishing information of some kind, or is it more than that? Winer’s definition, for example, doesn’t really include curation such as that practiced by NPR journalist Andy Carvin — a crucial part of what journalism has become. Carvin has talked about how even non-journalists can engage in “random acts of journalism” when the need arises. Journalism should be “treated like a utility”

So what is Holesgrove’s solution to this alleged “objective journalism problem?” He says journalism should be treated like a utility, and some kind of government or industry body should license journalists to practice — in the same way that hydro workers and others who work for various utilities are regulated.

[T]he industry needs a firm line drawn between what is journalism and what is not and a little bit of intervention by a higher power could solve the whole issue in one simple stroke: It’s time to start thinking about journalism as a utility … utilities are identified as being essential to our daily operation of life and practicing professionals need to be licensed in those fields in order to protect the integrity of the utility.

Holesgrove isn’t the only one with this kind of idea: The culture minister in the Canadian province of Quebec recently discussed creating a new law that would legislate who could be a “professional journalist” as opposed to what the minister called “amateur bloggers.” While the criteria for admission to the professional category weren’t clearly described, the government said it wanted to identify those journalists who were dedicated to “serving the public interest,” and anyone with the professional rank would enjoy certain privileges such as “better access to government sources.”

This is the kind of slippery slope Holesgrove’s argument would take us down: a slope that leads to the government deciding who is a journalist and who isn’t, and therefore who deserves to be given certain information and who doesn’t. Is that the kind of world we want to live in? I certainly don’t. For better or worse, we now live in a world in which — as online-media pioneer Dan Gillmor said recently — you are your own gatekeeper, and you now get to decide whom you trust for information.

Is the media industry in turmoil? Sure it is. And everywhere you look there are “amateur bloggers” causing trouble by disobeying the supposed laws of journalism — whether by quoting anonymous sources or engaging in conflicts of interest, or a hundred other things that “real” journalists supposedly never do. But licensing some small group of journalists and excluding others would not resolve any of those issues (although it might reduce the numbers of people engaging in them). All it would do is restrict the amount of information available, and that’s a much bigger problem.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: advertising; dbm; journalism; reporting
The "journalism community" just cannot come to terms with the fact they don't control information flow anymore.
1 posted on 09/08/2011 6:23:37 AM PDT by abb
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To: 04-Bravo; aimhigh; andyandval; Arizona Carolyn; Bahbah; bert; bilhosty; Caipirabob; carmenbmw; ...

ping


2 posted on 09/08/2011 6:24:38 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

Before you license journalists you might want to repeal the first amendment.


3 posted on 09/08/2011 6:29:55 AM PDT by all the best
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To: abb
And everywhere you look there are “amateur bloggers” causing trouble by disobeying the supposed laws of journalism — whether by quoting anonymous sources or engaging in conflicts of interest, or a hundred other things that “real” journalists supposedly never do.

A license is nothing more than a way to eliminate your competition using the force of law and the barrel of a gun.................

4 posted on 09/08/2011 6:31:16 AM PDT by Red Badger ("Treason doth never prosper.... What's the reason? Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.")
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To: abb
So they want to license 'journalists' I wonder what the punishment would be for “Practicing journalism without a license”.

This would be funny if it did not represent such a threat to our right to free speech, and if such a requirement was not right up the narcissist-in-chief's alley.

It occurs to me that given a stupid and corrupt enough congress (and we HAVE given ourselves exactly that), some kind of law requiring journalists to be licensed by the FCC might actually have a chance of getting passed during an Obama administration... strictly in the name of “fairness”, mind you.

5 posted on 09/08/2011 6:32:25 AM PDT by WayneS (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison)
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To: abb

They’ve already found a way to license the second amendment, now they want to license the first amendment. If they get away with that, how soon will they want to be the ones to decide what is a “real” church and start licensing religions?


6 posted on 09/08/2011 6:33:58 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing an idiot)
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To: abb

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/09/after-labor-day-media-musical-chairs/42167/
After Labor Day, Media Musical Chairs

http://www.cjr.org/feature/fade_to_black.php
Fade to Black - As a video revolution sweeps the world, US television news caps its lens

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=157452&nid=130725
Winners and Losers: The Changing Media Ad Landscape, 1980-2011

http://adage.com/article/mediaworks/dish-network-s-blockbuster-netflix-rival-expected-month/229610/
Dish Network’s Netflix Rival Expected Next Month
Blockbuster, Bought by Dish This Year, Already Has Streaming Tech in Place

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/07/us-facebook-idUSTRE7863YW20110907
Exclusive: Facebook doubles first-half revenue

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Media_economy_57/Forecast-Not-so-hot-second-half-afterall.asp
Forecast: Not so hot second half after all

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Broadcastrecap_64/Big-Four-sink-boosting-Univision-to-No-1.asp
Big Four sink, boosting Univision to No. 1


7 posted on 09/08/2011 6:36:02 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: all the best
Before you license journalists you might want to repeal the first amendment.

Yep, barring that it will have a very short ride straight into the wall of Clarence Thomas
8 posted on 09/08/2011 6:41:26 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: abb
I don't find the word "journalist" in the First Amendment.

I don't think it's supposed to be limited to "journalists," but then I am not a megalomaniac.

9 posted on 09/08/2011 7:19:24 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Palin is coming, and the Tea Party is coming with her.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
I don't find the word "journalist" in the First Amendment.

The first amendment applies only to hand operated single sheet, hand operated printing presses. It doesn't apply to fully automatic, high speed presses of today. And it certainly doesn't apply to "street sweeper" internet posts. < /applying anti-second amendment "logic" to the first amendment>

Every time someone complains about bloggers and amateur journalists, we need to shout about the effects of Buckhead and the famous post #47 which brought down "professional" journalist Dan Rather in 2004. The journalists have become a self-protecting guild and only voices from the wilderness can proclaim the truth.

10 posted on 09/08/2011 7:29:37 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Due to the earthquake the president has officially implemented Rule 18-1.)
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To: abb

“I’m sorry sir, you’re not authorized to either have an opinion or ask a question.”
“You’re under arrest!”


11 posted on 09/08/2011 7:44:31 AM PDT by G Larry (I dream of a day when a man is judged by the content of his character)
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To: abb
"What is a journalist?"

Let's rephrase...

< What is a whore? A woman who performs a sex act for cash. So then, what is a prostitute, a call-girl, an escort, a courtesan? And what's the difference between a crack whore, who does 20 men a night at $10 bucks each, to feed her habit, and the $5000/night lady of Elliot Spitzer's dreams.

And what of the woman who accepts no cash, but allows herself to be flown to exotic locals, wined and dined at the best places, and then showered with baubles from the best jewelers? In return, she knows what is "eeeeexpected" of here..

These are all far more relevant questions than "what makes a journalist?"

12 posted on 09/08/2011 7:57:03 AM PDT by ken5050 (Save the EARTH...it's the ONLY planet with CHOCOLATE!!!)
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To: KarlInOhio

Excellent point, thanks for posting!

Obama would love licensed journalist, it would allow them to shutdown so much of the internet.


13 posted on 09/08/2011 8:01:37 AM PDT by politicianslie (Democrats are COMMUNIST, Repubs are SOCIALIST, and Barry's a Muslim manipulating USEFUL RINO IDIOTS)
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To: abb
The truth is in the world - that genie can't be put back in the bottle.

It's too late.

If liberal elites outlaw our speech - restricting 'speech' only to "licensed" elites, we still have iphones, ipads, blogs that will appear and disappear quickly. We understand technology. They can't suppress everything.

The real reason newspapers are dying is because when the truth started coming out - they were exposed as purveyors of liberal myths... Their allegiance was to push an agenda at the expense of truth. That understanding - of who they really are - will never go away. It's why in public places when groups are together, the MSM is booed...

14 posted on 09/08/2011 8:09:46 AM PDT by GOPJ (126 people were indicted for being terrorists in the last two years. Every one of them was Muslim.)
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To: GOPJ
The real reason newspapers are dying is because when the truth started coming out - they were exposed as purveyors of liberal myths...

Another reason is that most local newspapers just take AP stories, cut them to fit around advertisements and then add the local sports scores and obituaries. There is very little original journalism in the typical local newspaper. If I get access to the original AP story from any source, then I really don't need to read the local paper.

15 posted on 09/08/2011 8:21:59 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Due to the earthquake the president has officially implemented Rule 18-1.)
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To: abb
The Ministry of Information will keep us safe from incorrect thought. The left already uses journalism schools to filter out conservatives from the profession and to indoctrinate the impressionable in the correct way of thinking. The licensing idea is an attempt to plug the leaks and circle the wagons around the sheeple.
16 posted on 09/08/2011 8:56:58 AM PDT by WMarshal (Where is the next Sam Adams?)
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To: KarlInOhio
AP's a joke with their 'unexpected' in front of any bad economic news - when a dem's in office( "unexpected" increase in jobless numbers etc). And a reverse with Republicans.

Newspapers might as well wrap their ads with PRNewswire copy - the stuffs free... The original idea behind AP was good - kind of the equivalent of seeing a TV commercial created by whizzbang Madison Avenue firms rather than the local company with a fat used car dealer yelling 'buy from the Big Shade Tree dealer" or some such garbage. But it doesn't matter because it's all part of the same liberal elite groupthink. AP makes the 'sell' look better - just as Madison Ave does with ads - but not more truthful - and it's all from the same point of view.

There was a time when reporters came from blue collar backgrounds. They knew what was going on in the community because they lived there. Now it's highly educated elites writing for each other. For an in-house rag that would be fine - for a general circulation paper it's the kiss of death.

Your comment about local news is well taken - but again - local news that springs from the same elite liberal group-think isn't going to connect to many readers outside the circle of 'elites'. Yes, Virginia there are Tea Party members in YOUR community. Important stories are missed - and worse, stories the great unwashed know are bogus, are repeated endlessly.

For example, Newspapers support local United Ways. They support the charities involved - the missing children, homeless, abused women, blankets for bums - whatever. Now how truthful is that reporting? Does it reflect what commen people know as the truth? No. The 'missing children' scam disappeared without much comment after it turned out some of the statistics had been ginned up by saying a child who was returned from custodial visitation 10 minutes late was "missing' statistically. Newspapers didn't explain why that one was dropped - from papers or milk cartons. They should have - it would have made an interesting story.

Remember all the 'homeless' stories - with pictures of 'mom, dad, and two blue eyed children' - a sob story that would eat your heart out. Except that family was the exception - used to bleed money from the community but far from the truth. The mentally ill - the drug addicted and criminal wouldn't fit the liberal myth, but their story needs to be told so the problems can be dealt with. And why do so few street people use the 'charities' that are set up to 'serve' them? Reporters talk to their fellow liberal elites running the facilities - and strangely get the exact same story. Same with education. Papers back union teachers and their story gets told. And only their story. Local reporters ONLY add value to a paper if readers feel some truthful understanding is being offered by their writing...(Seriously - give me a topic and I'll tell you how a liberal reporter will cover it - it's that boring) Value doesn't come from elite groupthink rehashing the same stuff endless - from the same position - over and over and over etc etc. ( see how it feels?) For many papers, PRNewwire to wrap around their ads will do just fine.

17 posted on 09/08/2011 10:04:38 AM PDT by GOPJ (126 people were indicted for being terrorists in the last two years. Every one of them was Muslim.)
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To: ken5050

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/145411/wapo-publisher-katharine-weymouth-sees-new-media-as-them-not-us/
Washington Post publisher Weymouth sees new media as ‘them,’ not ‘us’

http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110908/media_nm/us_dealtalk_washingtonpost
Dealtalk: Not For Sale? ... The Washington Post


18 posted on 09/08/2011 11:04:36 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb
And what is journalism? Apparently, Holesgrove defines journalism as being solely the pursuit of and presentation of objective facts: something he doesn’t seem to think most bloggers are capable of. At one point, he describes All Things Digital writer Kara Swisher and TechCrunch writer Paul Carr as “journalists acting like bloggers,” but then adds later that he doesn’t think Carr is a journalist at all because he isn’t objective. After some more back-and-forth about TechCrunch, the author then comes to the conclusion that we have an “objective journalism problem.”
Nobody can know that they themselves are objective. There are people who are trying to be objective, and there are those who are not even trying to be objective, but there is no one who is objective and knows it. Anyone who claims to be objective, or who presumes to know who else is objective, is not objective about themselves. But it is possible to discern that some people are not even trying to be objective. Anyone who claims to be objective, or claims that members of their own group are objective, is at that moment avoiding the painful humility which is the sine qua non for attempting objectivity.

Anyone who thinks themselves qualified to license "objective journalists" is making no attempt to be objective. The trouble is that "objective journalism" is actually consensus wire service journalism.


19 posted on 09/08/2011 11:19:26 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion

Check out MeMaw Kate Graham’s granddaughter in post 18.


20 posted on 09/08/2011 11:37:33 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

IOW ATLAS SHRUGGED

The “anti dog eat dog rule”

upstarts are not allowed if they damage existing established companies AND they have to share their resources with the established companies.

(crony capitalism. I can’t believe part 1 did not make it at the box office)


21 posted on 09/08/2011 1:28:26 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: muir_redwoods
If they get away with that, how soon will they want to be the ones to decide what is a “real” church and start licensing religions?

Nov. 6, 2012

22 posted on 09/08/2011 3:52:57 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: abb
No, licensing journalists isn’t the answer

How's about we have them making license plates?

23 posted on 09/08/2011 7:30:14 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: abb
The "journalism community" just cannot come to terms with the fact they don't control information flow anymore.

The gnashing of teeth has been going on for at least 15 years, and over the past 10 years it has become downright nasty, with the dinosaur newsrooms constantly trying to affirm their relevance by getting socialists and goofball leftists elected against the will of most decent Americans.

They were surprised to see their Al Gore lose, but they were thoroughly flummoxed when Kerry lost despite pulling out all the stops. It was around that point they decided to stop even pretending to be "objective".

Their success with getting Ubama elected was too easy after 8 years of relentlessly beating up Bush, and so now they are wondering how on earth they are going to get Ubama reelected. I'm sure the Journ-O-listers are putting their heads together even as we post.

24 posted on 09/08/2011 7:47:15 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: abb

Over and over again, the writer commits the unpardonable sin of putting “objective” and “journalism” in the same sentence.


25 posted on 09/08/2011 8:11:17 PM PDT by Rocky (REPEAL IT!)
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To: abb
The culture minister in the Canadian province of Quebec recently discussed creating a new law that would legislate who could be a “professional journalist” as opposed to what the minister called “amateur bloggers.” While the criteria for admission to the professional category weren’t clearly described, the government said it wanted to identify those journalists who were dedicated to “serving the public interest,” and anyone with the professional rank would enjoy certain privileges such as “better access to government sources.”

We can refer to the "professional rank" as the "Soviet" reporters.

26 posted on 09/08/2011 8:17:32 PM PDT by Interesting Times (WinterSoldier.com. SwiftVets.com. ToSetTheRecordStraight.com.)
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