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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get paid to shape the news.

“Where being first is all that matters. We’ll confirm the rest later.”

Original post title: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, but you people expect more from me, doncha. See, in my day, the only citizen journalists who were paid were newspaper boys.

So now, because I have a blog and Twitter account, I can not only help spread half-truths and definitive unreliable alternative factoids, I can profit from them? Sign. Me. Up. How will Ariana Huffington ever hope to compete with that model?

But, much as it pains me, I might as well lump paid reviews, PPP and this approach to paid content all together. As I said in an earlier post on the death of the news, traditional media still calls the shots when it comes to the legitimacy and accuracy of all the news reporting that happens, as well as being the main source of content for the blogosphere to run on.

When you introduce money into the equation, it encourages quantity, not quality. Yes, news anchors on CNN get paid to report things. But I think I’ll trust their system of checks and balances over mine.

That still won’t stop the CJs across the country from rubbing their collective hands together in a get-rich Dr. Evil manner however:

“If I can file three stories a day at $25 a pop, that’s almost nearly close to $1,600 a month!”

The inevitable counter argument will be that only citizen news covered these recent events first: The Iranian elections, US Air Flight 1549 and the Mumbai terror attacks.

And your point would be?

Remember that imaginary tagline up top: Being first is not the same as being right. Twitter and social networks have no obligation to get it right, only to get it first. Social networks, while seemingly open and honest—they’re not—are at best unfiltered B-roll in so many cases.

Worse, they can be manipulated to help shape the story either as it develops or in the days that follow. Traditional news couldn’t allow that unless it was their people doing the shaping.

Why get swayed by the impact of 10,000 people with cell phones covering an event when you have no sense of context or explanation for what you're seeing? While this whole rant may have come off as me supporting the traditional newsgathering process as we know it, far from it.

The hubris found in journalism always gets me, that somehow the industry is above it all because it has to follow certain principles that blogs do not—or won’t. I understand that.

But that’s also the same thing that has so many longstanding news outfits looking around to blame everyone but themselves when the doors are chained shut.

I also get the arguments of old vs. new journalism too, how the establishment needs to undergo change or face extinction, but until then, traditional media will continue to view citizen journalists as part of their news snitch ring. Great, you tweeted about an event first.

Now, step aside and let real journalists take it from here.

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