The new cost of news by MacPhail...

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Farmpunk
The new cost of news by MacPhail...

Not a bad op-ed by McPhail, and it's interesting to note the budget rabble works with. 

But how much of that money goes towards on the ground news gathering?  The infrastructure McPhail says is dragging down traditional news - and he's basically grounded his argument in newspapers - seems to be eating up a lot of rabble's news budget, too.

The rabble portion of the site has come a long way since I joined babble and that's not that long ago.  So, kudos to the rabble crew.

But rabble had best keep pushing forward and get more news on the site.  Newspapers are moving towards mult-media platforms at an astonishing rate.  My biggest local paper, the London Free Press, is now in my opinion a half and half print and broadcast-multimedia company that has retained it's strong local content (by that I mean it has a lot of local content) and enhanced it.  But even smaller local papers are shooting vids and tossing them on the net to complement the paper.      

Maysie Maysie's picture
Snert Snert's picture

I find it interesting that rabble staff all work considerable "volunteer" hours.

If it were revealed that Canwest's financial model expected employees to work a substantial number of hours UNPAID, I wonder what the reaction would be?   

Maysie Maysie's picture

From the article:

Quote:
 It's also clear that the rabble.ca model isn't sustainable, or, at least, fair and scalable. Staff and volunteers contribute willingly to the gift economy that makes rabble run. But, that is a fragile well to drink from for a sustained period, especially during an economic drought. And, while we have depended upon the kindness of non-strangers, the gift/reward ratio needs to tilt a little more in their favour.

Snert, the line between being paid and volunteering one's time in one's workplace, is a characteristic of many many left and progressive organizations and NGOs, and yes, as a former worker at a few of them in the past I would say that's an exploitative framework. Nonetheless, the work needs to get done, and those of us who worked or worked in those kinds of organizations know that nobody's drawing a "fat cat" salary and the budget is constrained. We get it done, and rarely complain about it, because we believe in the services, the message, the organization's work as being valuable.

What alternatives are you prepared to offer, Snert? I'm sure the folks at rabble would love to hear them.

Farmpunk

I think its slightly over the top to suggest that people working for other news organizations are simply punching a timecard.  I suspect it's not a professional atmosphere that rewards people who only work a standard work week and aren't doing more than is expected...  similar to the rabble staffers. 

Rabble appears to be stuck trying to generate increased revenue from media.  Sound familiar?  There's no reason why lefties and progressives should be experiencing this phenomenon alone. 

Fidel

The two big business and pro-bankster parties would love to find people who will work for free. Similarly, war hawks would prefer not to have to pay mercenaries to destabilize various countries and private security outfits, launder drug money for covert ops etc when  waging war on poor people around the world.

And I think the rightwing will step up efforts to privatize the internet and create "smart" internet at great cost as opposed to building a speedier and freer dumb one. I think donating ones' time and money to leftwing internet causes will be a labour of love for some, just as the Spanish Republicans, Nicaraguan Sandinistas, Cuban campesinos, and Vietnamese NVA donated their sweat, blood, and tears to fighting imperialists at the gates. It's a war on democracy, comrades, and youve all been drafted like it or not.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I didn't think Wayne really addressed the 'cost of news' at all. This thread posed serious questions about the ability of internet sources to provide real journalism. I was hoping Wayne's article would try to answer them in some way.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

What alternatives are you prepared to offer, Snert? I'm sure the folks at rabble would love to hear them.

 

I would suggest that Rabble's paid staff go on strike and demand to be paid for their labour.

Failing that, I suppose I'd suggest that if Rabble lacks the money to pay its employees, maybe it's time to cut back a little on the expansion and the advertising and the sponsorships and the free prizes until such time as revenues are sufficient to pay staff. A lot of babblers seem to say they liked the old software fine, for example. I wonder if not upgrading might have left sufficient funds to pay employees fairly?

What I find funny (and your response emphasizes this) is how it's totally OK for a progressive site like Rabble to do this. Anyone else expecting their employees to work free overtime is evil. Rabble is, evidently, exempt, presumably because "they have to". How important does the cause have to be before it's no longer necessary to treat employees fairly or to practice what you preach?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Snert, as I said, it's not a good practice. As I also said, rabble isn't the only organization to do this not-good practice. No, that doesn't get them off the hook, but it's real. What ideas do you propose to change this structure? Striking? Seriously?

Nowhere did I say that it's okay, for rabble or anyone to do this. It's one of those not-great practices that shoestring organizations have to deal with. This is the reality. 

As someone who works with staff and managers in non-profits, this is an ongoing concern for me and the work I do. Issues I deal with include being proactive about staff burn out rates, frustration, as well as chronic budget issues and staff being underpaid for the sector (my sector isn't media by the way). 

It's easy to complain. Offering viable solutions is much more challenging.

And fyi, I have neither the knowledge nor the interest to engage in, yet again, another discussion on why the previous software was just fine. Please see a gajilion other threads in which Michelle and oldgoat cover that issue.

Michelle

What Maysie said.  Sure, it's problematic, but say we all go on strike for more wages.  That basically means the site is shut down, because almost all of the revenues we generate go to our wages.  (And yes, that includes the salaries of our technical team who implemented the redesign).

None of us who work for rabble depend on it as our full-time income.  Not even our publisher, who is also paid part-time, works full-time, and does the lion's share of the revenue generation.  And she's the first one to forgo her paycheque if there hasn't been enough raised at the end of the month.

rabble.ca is basically an activist project.  It requires some paid positions because they require more time than most of us can donate for free.  But we also put in a lot of volunteer hours because we also consider it activist work and a project that we believe in.  We know that's the nature of the business.  There's no "management" making all the money while the workers are asked to volunteer their time.  We all volunteer our time because rabble wouldn't exist if we didn't.

Michelle

P.S. The free prizes we get?  Those are donated to us so that we can use them to promote memberships - revenue generation.  That includes things like the Flip cameras and magazine subscriptions and such.  In the case of the Flip cameras also, we are hoping to promote citizen journalism with them - which generates content for the site.

Advertising?  Sponsorships?  Not sure what you're talking about there, Snert.  What advertising or sponsorships do you figure we're spending money on instead of paying wages?  I don't get it.

Fidel

Maysie wrote:
Issues I deal with include being proactive about staff burn out rates, frustration, as well as chronic budget issues and staff being underpaid for the sector (my sector isn't media by the way). 

 

Why not take a Rae Day like the National Ghost, I mean, Post? And I'm sure some of us have worked for private enterprise outfits where taking a mental health day off wasnt out of the question. Sounds like Rabblers need to schedule a safety meeting.

Wayne MacPhail

Snert, what level of financial support do you currently offer rabble.ca?

Snert Snert's picture

Very well.  I had assumed that money was spent sponsoring events, and that rabble advertised, but if not then my mistake.  And as long as everyone is OK with volunteering, I'm not the one to tell them they shouldn't be (though the article kind of made it sound like perhaps the long hours + no pay was starting to wear thin).

Michelle

Sometimes it does wear thin!  And sometimes some of us have to back off a bit and take a breather on the excessive volunteer work if we're feeling too burnt out or if other parts of our lives get overly busy (although our publisher doesn't have that luxury). 

No, it doesn't cost us cash to be the media sponsor of events - we consider it part of our mandate to offer media sponsorship and publicity to activist groups who are doing good work.  We're supposed to be the alternative to the mainstream media, after all!  And we don't advertise anywhere except on our own site, unless we're trading ads with other web sites and groups.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Wayne MacPhail wrote:
Snert, what level of financial support do you currently offer rabble.ca?

I'm sorry, but this is a bullshit response. Are people that don't pay income tax not permitted to criticize the government? I'm not particularly enamoured with Snert's line of questioning, but I do have criticisms and concerns about rabble's 'business model' and to be bullied into silence because I don't donate enough cash to the cause is 100% bullshit.

Ghislaine

I completely agree with Maysie and Michelle that many people will do unpaid work for something they believe in and as long as it is voluntary - what is the problem?

 

However, in the context of this discussion - keep in mind that there are many corporations in a non-profit situation right now. I don't recall many people advocating the workers take a pay reduction (let alone work for free) to ensure the company does not collapse completely.

 

Also, if the socialist revoluation is every successful in Canada - do all the volunteers get paid full-time employment at rabble.ca or does it become part of state media?

Wayne MacPhail

Catchfire, what's bullshit is people jumping to erroneous conclusions about the motivations and management of rabble. All the non-staff board members volunteer their time, offer additional pro bono consultation and other free work and/or contribute writing. So, we are exploiting ourselves I suppose. We all do this because it is a cause not just a job. Ill-informed discussions like this just drain the spirit a bit.

Fidel

And by the way, thank you for your contributions of time and effort to rabble, Wayne.  I'm on to twitter now eh.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Catchfire, what's bullshit is people jumping to erroneous conclusions about the motivations and management of rabble

Scrutiny of organizations and their management seems generally well tolerated here, if not perhaps even encouraged. Are you saying that Rabble should be exempt from this?

Quote:
Ill-informed discussions like this just drain the spirit a bit.

Ya. When people suggest that my employer should treat me more fairly, sometimes I just want to throw in the towel. I'll try to refrain from any such suggestions.

I guess all that's left is the awkard business of the cheque.  That was two comments in this post.  What's that going to set me back?  Do you do Interac?

 

Wayne MacPhail

No, Snert, I'm just suggesting you should do your homework.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Wayne MacPhail wrote:
Catchfire, what's bullshit is people jumping to erroneous conclusions about the motivations and management of rabble. All the non-staff board members volunteer their time, offer additional pro bono consultation and other free work and/or contribute writing. So, we are exploiting ourselves I suppose. We all do this because it is a cause not just a job. Ill-informed discussions like this just drain the spirit a bit.

Wayne, all this could have been said--indeed, as Maysie and Michelle did above--without the tacky implication that those who criticize rabble.ca's 'business model' need to pony up some cash before their voices are heard.

I do agree that it is an interesting problem, and LTJ brings up an interesting suggestion that the decline of journalism we've seen in recent years is a result of big news agencies' inability to maintain robust newsrooms. Obviously, the vast majority of babblers want to see rabble as a legitimate tonic to that problem. But there are questions as to how to achieve that.

For example, what do we make of your assertion, Wayne, that rabble's structure is in fact unsustainable? I think there is something to the fact that rabble relies on stretched labour to survive, and that big news chains make these same arguments when they lay off local journalists in favour of news wires. I don't think that this is any reflection on the motives of rabble's management, of course, but doesn't it at least question the path? Your response in the article is packed with truisms and generalities:

Quote:
We should grow our own, and think local. We should cover ourselves, take civic responsibility to inform ourselves and our neighbours and not depend on large, expensive and unwieldy newsrooms to do it for us. Many of them have clanked and bellowed ungently into their good nights.

That doesn't mean we should undervalue, or ignore the experience and expertise that goes into longer form, longer-to-do investigative journalism. Far from it. Part of the additional funding news sites like rabble needs should be earmarked to hire shop-worn journalists to do what they do best. But, there is a lot of day-to-day journalism we can all participate in.

Who will train these journalists? Isn't this also a bit disingenuous since many (most?) of the stories rabble picks up (for free) are first published in for-profit publications? 'Think local' is an appealing concept, but how does it apply to international stories?

The Guardian is still putting out high quality, skeptical journalism, although their liberal business model still raises some questions. It seems to me that the only real alternative to LaPointe's model is citizen journalism, but not for an organization like rabble, but organizations like DailyKos, EmptyWheel, or from individuals like the AngryArab who give us learned, local perspecives on stories the average citizen is unable to break into and the larger media chains are unwilling to stray from the status quo. Otherwise, aren't we just building mini-Posts?

 

Farmpunk

Eventually rabble will have to start generating more revenue in order to grow.  I think MacPhail has brought this up before, in the banner ad flap, if memory serves. 

And I assume he's simply getting testy from time to time when anonymous posters are hacking on his and the other rabble staffers and volunteer's hard work.  Snert wants to "scrutinize" rabble.  Great.  Get a blog and snert away.  Rabble ain't the government, Catchfire, so I think MacPhail is being perfectly reasonable to fire questions back at an anonymous poster who feels it's his\her duty to scrutinize and criticize rabble when all it's doing is providing news, info, and a place to hang and hack - for free.

I thought LTJ's point was more along the line that the msm is doing the work that no one on the net is currently.  Doesn't most of our ground level news come from the msm, which is then turned around by legions of bloggers and netsperts into something they claim as their own?   

 

Slumberjack

I'd be willing to assume that there's more ways to be compensated in a collective endeavor such as Rabble.  In seeing motivation and dedication examined soley in terms of a weekly pay cheque, does it feel like having one's bare pocket picked?

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Snert wants to "scrutinize" rabble.  Great.  Get a blog and snert away.  Rabble ain't the government, Catchfire, so I think MacPhail is being perfectly reasonable to fire questions back at an anonymous poster who feels it's his\her duty to scrutinize and criticize rabble when all it's doing is providing news, info, and a place to hang and hack - for free.

 

Evidently not for free, if you want to be able to ask questions.

 

But here comes that implication that somehow Rabble is de facto perfectly progressive, and beyond any criticism.

 

Television, several newspapers, Facebook, and many, many internet sites are also provided to me (and you) for free. Shall we agree to never, ever criticize any of them? Does their altruism buy your silence?

 

Michelle addressed my comments just fine several posts ago. I'm just staying with this because of the really odd vibe. Like, I love that you specifically mentioned "anonymous" posters. Would signing my name, like making a donation, change things?? I don't follow.

remind remind's picture

Farmpunk wrote:
Snert wants to "scrutinize" rabble.  Great.  Get a blog and snert away.  Rabble ain't the government, Catchfire, so I think MacPhail is being perfectly reasonable to fire questions back at an anonymous poster who feels it's his\her duty to scrutinize and criticize rabble when all it's doing is providing news, info, and a place to hang and hack - for free.

LOL, I agree.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Snert wrote:
 Like, I love that you specifically mentioned "anonymous" posters. Would signing my name, like making a donation, change things?? I don't follow.

Actually, yes, not being anonymous does make a difference.

I have plenty of critiques of babble, and rabble. I've voiced them here on babble and to the various staff members who I've met and respect, and the tone in which I critique is tempered by the reality of having met them face to face and knowing the restrictions of what they're dealing with. If I truly was put off by everything, and I do certainly get frustrated at times, I would stop complaining, leave and not return. I choose to stay and engage in ways that I want to.

For me, knowing some of the people involved with rabble, babblers, seeing them at events in the community and drinking girly drinks with them (Wink @ oldgoat and N.R.Kissed) changes how I offer critiques. It's not so easy to tell someone "you're a fucking moron" on a discussion board once you've met them in person. At least, for me it isn't.

As for the question about money contribution, I get that it's all "free". But on the internet it's easy for the big guys to be free. Our experience as surfers may be equalized (click here, click there, whatever) but the infrastructure and back end supporting a big monster website like cbc.ca or ctv.ca are not at all the same as small independent progressive news sites like rabble. Clearly you can see the difference.

Farmpunk

Slumberjack, I get where you're coming from.  But what these people are doing for free is work, and time.  I've spoken with enough podcasters and citizen journalists and newsy activists to understand that the fire eventually burns itself out with some kind of financial compensation.  It's work, and rabble needs a way to compensate workers for their efforts if it wants to be a serious organization.

Snert, I doubt you'd find a lot of agreement on babble that the site is perfectly progressive.  Even bringing up that type of discussion makes me want to turn off my computer, because it's boring and old.  Rabble is what it is.   

Yep, lots of free things on the are free.  I'm not sure facebook is altruistic, however. 

The anonymous thing is one that I've struggled with over my rabble babble years.  I think that's why I read rabble more than babble anymore.  We used to have anonymous babblers writing grossly insulting and libelous things about real contributors all the time.  And that bothered me.  You seem to be snerting down that path yourself now that you're questioning the actions of real people with names and reputations.  Wayne MacPhail exists - you are Snert.  I find that's a big difference in accountablility and trustworthiness.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
We used to have anonymous babblers writing grossly insulting and libelous things about real contributors all the time.

 

Aren't all babblers real contributors? And don't all babblers have the option of a screen name, a semi-anonymous name (there's lots of Michelles in the world) or a real name?

 

Choosing to use one's real name shouldn't be a shield against reasonable criticism. Not that I recall criticizing Wayne (?). Initially I pointed out that when any other organization expects employees to put in free overtime, that gets criticized, and yet that doesn't seem to be the case here. I'm not sure when or how that morphed into me, the "anonymous" poster criticizing individuals.

Quote:
You seem to be snerting down that path yourself now that you're questioning the actions of real people with names and reputations. 


I questioned "Rabble". Again, it would appear that Rabble is the only organization on the planet that, along with its management, mustn't be questioned.
Jebus. It wasn't even a particularly pointy question. Circle the wagons!! An anonymous poster thinks our management policies might not be a progressive as we think!! And get those "REAL" posters to the inside, where their reputations will be safe!!!

Michelle

Who is "its management", Snert?  Just curious.

Snert Snert's picture

I don't have any names for you.  Wayne's article refers to them as "the Board".

Tommy_Paine

"We should grow our own, and think local. We should cover ourselves, take civic responsibility to inform ourselves and our neighbours and not depend on large, expensive and unwieldy newsrooms to do it for us. Many of them have clanked and bellowed ungently into their good nights."

This has occurred to me when thinking of the plights of London's two media outlets, the Free Press and "A Channel".   These outfits were bought, and probably still struggle against their share  of debt due to the corporate idea of media "synergies".     Thing is, both made money when the city and surrounding area was a third of it's current size or even smaller.  Of course, technologies and business has changed, and that's added stress.    But, I think both are still viable now, and can be into the future.

However, they can't take Wayne's model, because in order to "save money" they've come to relly less on local news, but instead import more from the corporate overlord.

The Freeps has been running imported editorials from Toronto now for over a year. Readers and viewers don't like this, and it's continued their downward slides. I think it has to do with the people in the medium not understanding their medium. 

I make a point of listening to Terry O'Rielly's "Age of Persuasion" on CBC radio.  O'Rielly said he likes radio the best because there's an intimacy with the listener you don't get with any other medium.  His understanding of that makes the show not only informative, but a tactile experience.

Seems to me that people in all these various mediums want to concentrate on someone else's medium, instead of concentrating on what they know. 

They need to think inside the box.

 

Slumberjack

Tommy_Paine wrote:
  However, they can't take Wayne's model, because in order to "save money" they've come to relly less on local news, but instead import more from the corporate overlord. 

If importing occurs without alternate analysis, it's a legitimate criticism.  There's no reason why any issue wouldn't deserve time spent in the critical light of day, regardless of where it originated.  You wouldn't expect corporate media to debunk itself.  Is it really a matter of intimacy with radio, is that all it takes, a soothing voice reading script, or does it have to do with nostalgia?  I ask that because I read a piece from Neil MacDonald a few weeks ago dealing with the demise of newsprint, and nostalgia seemed to be all there was of his argument as well, when the other points he was getting on about to do with journalistic professionalism and effectiveness, access to the backrooms, etc, had a familiar hollow ring to it.

Farmpunk

A physical daily newspaper is not long for this world.  The London Free Press stopped printing a Sunday edition several months ago.  They have since been hammering the website with material.  If you're curious about one of the biggest mass murder trials in Ontario - the Outlaw Biker killings - then go to the archived multi-media material on their site. 

Media companies will have to have some physical presence on paper, or on live airwaves, still, in my opinion.  A purely net news company can't yet exist online in any large form.  And now the Freeps is pushing people back to the paper by not putting all their articles online.   

I'll parrot T-P's line of thinking.  The Free Press made money and used to be decent.  It's still not that bad for busting stories no one else gets in London.  But it's probably still making money but with less staff and less local content, or it's own house editorial writers.  Which shows how cheap things must be... because there are thousands of wanna be editorial writers in a university town like London.  Some of them would proably even do it for free.

This is not to say the Free Press is doing "progressive" journalism.  But as LTJ said in an earlier thread, unless I'm misinterpreting, is that new media isn't providing that basic level of news gathering and that's its biggest fault. 

Tommy_Paine

 

Is it really a matter of intimacy with radio, is that all it takes, a soothing voice reading script, or does it have to do with nostalgia?

Neither.  It's radio that not only engages, but demands your imagination.  It's what radio did best in it's prime, and while it doesn't enjoy the near monopoly it once did, it still commands enough audience to make a buck.   In the same way, there will always be an audience for newspapers.  Maybe not all the newspapers we see today, and certainly not with the content they have today, but there will always be a market.

 

If importing occurs without alternate analysis, it's a legitimate criticism.  There's no reason why any issue wouldn't deserve time spent in the critical light of day, regardless of where it originated.

In the context of the Freeps running a Goldstien editorial, or a Christina Blizzard column, it's insulting when the Toronto Sun is on the newstand next to the Freeps. People who still buy the Free Press are doing so on the expectation that it is a London paper, with local perspective as well as reporting. 

I may be sited as having a certain bias, even a hate on for Sun Media, but I would bristle the same if it was owned by the Toronto Star, and fed ever increasing Toronto content at the expense of London content-- and jobs.

The "A channel", formerly CFPL T.V., makes the same mistake with news.  It may make production efficiencies to make Londoners sit through house fire stories from Windsor, or Windsor viewers to sit through routine news events in London, but it only ends up alienating both segments of what was hoped to be a larger audience.

 

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Farmpunk wrote:

I thought LTJ's point was more along the line that the msm is doing the work that no one on the net is currently.  Doesn't most of our ground level news come from the msm, which is then turned around by legions of bloggers and netsperts into something they claim as their own?

That was indeed my point.

That said, I don't believe that the MSM was suffering from a decline in revenues while they closed local newsrooms (of course, in the last few months the decline in revenue is real, but the trend is a decade old).

It goes back to the glory days of 'media convergence', and their insane spending sprees. Local journalism was cut to pay for Conrad Black's dreams of empire, and the follies of BellGlobeMedia.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Tommy_Paine wrote:
Seriously, I remember people like me used to grumble over the London Free Press/CFPL T.V./ CFPL A.M./ F.M. 96 Blackburn owned monopoly.  Now,  we'd have it back compared to the media monopolies we have now.

It's difficult to view the effects of Quebecor buying local papers, or CTV buying, and now shedding, the "A Channels" as anything but vandalism.

True dat, Tommy.

I meant to mention that I loved your previous line: "They need to think inside the box." Nothing could be more obvious than the fact that no one at the media conglomerates cares about quality journalism today.

Tommy_Paine

I'll parrot T-P's line of thinking.  The Free Press made money and used to be decent.

I never said it was ever decent. 

Laughing

Seriously, I remember people like me used to grumble over the London Free Press/CFPL T.V./ CFPL A.M./ F.M. 96 Blackburn owned monopoly.  Now,  we'd have it back compared to the media monopolies we have now.

It's difficult to view the effects of Quebecor buying local papers, or CTV buying, and now shedding, the "A Channels" as anything but vandalism.

Speaking of which, CTV announced today-- in bitter and passive aggressive language-- that they are selling three of the "A Channels" to Shaw communications.  And said the remaining two-- which must be London-- will not seek licence renewal this August.

Price of the three "A Channels"? A dollar each.

Maybe for the price of a small Tims, we can pick up the London station, Farmpunk. Or, should I say, Vice President Farmpunk?

 

http://www.am980.ca/home/News/GeneralNewsDetail/tabid/967/Default.aspx?i...

 

Slumberjack

The underlying assumption seems to be that there exists anything of substance worth maintaining within the traditional mainstream content, and that viewers and readers by and large are tuning it out because of an inherent ability to recognize the difference between genuine journalistic analysis and the usual pre-packaged tripe.  Even the DJ's spin from an approved corporate sheet, there is no leeway provided in the selection or frequency of play.  I don't suggest that people are doing without, they just receive the daily fill of drivel elsewhere, online.  And for those who once relied upon the MSM to provide in-depth opinion shaping analysis, they've moved along as well.  The remaining audience, and you have to hand it to them for perseverance at least, seem intent on going down with the ship, and perhaps it's just as well.

Farmpunk

I agree in some ways with you, Slumberjack.  But I think net people tend to over-rate the numbers of people using the net.  And, back to LTJ's point - the net is rarely making the news.  That's not necessarily a good thing, mind you.  But I don't think anyone wants to go out on the ground and do the necessary work to be a good local journalist.  However, there are legions of bloggers and netsperts who love writing opinion pieces and linking me to a thousand other bloggers giving their opinions, all based on a piece of info the msm dug up and presented to the public, usually for free.

The Tyee comes to my mind all the sudden.  It's quite good at what it does. 

Anyhow, the tv msm is breaking apart quite fast.  CTV and CanWest have screwed themselves and now they're divesting.  Shaw is picking up the slack because the company has money and because it, too, wants a slice of the action that Rogers has dominated at least in SWOnt.  And while a lot of people laugh at Rogers news and local programs, and the reliance on volunteers, it's also the some of the best local news in London, for instance, while it's up against the well funded and staffed (at least until the last round of layoffs) "A" London.

To TP's joke about Farmpunk buying a station.  I'm losing enough money farming, already, thank you.  But I will say that if a progressive journalist wants to do some good work then get the fuck out of the larger centers.  There's a lot of room to roam in the smaller cities working for the msm, for money.  Just don't wear your politics on your sleeve.

 

 

Michelle

I agree with Farmpunk and LTJ about the fact that "hard reporting" - that is, basic reporting of the news - doesn't really happen that much online.  It's still the mainstream news doing the reporting, and mostly all we've done online is link to it and comment on it. 

I think our strength right now is our commentary, but it's true that we really need to fill the gaps and do straight news as well.

But the problem is, of course, money.  Most of us who work in alternative media have "day jobs" and we're not independently wealthy.  So we can't afford to donate full days to chasing stories, which is what it takes to break news on a daily basis.  So we have to figure out a new model for straight news too.

Tommy_Paine

And while a lot of people laugh at Rogers news and local programs, and the reliance on volunteers, it's also the some of the best local news in London, for instance, while it's up against the well funded and staffed (at least until the last round of layoffs) "A" London.

I think I mentioned before that George Clark, who does a lot of the news at the Roger's station (last time I looked) started in the mail room at CFPL T.V. 

And, that's what's missing in the picture.    There will be local T.V. stations and newspapers that survive all the pressures that exist today.  But, in order to survive they need the flexibility that corporate ownership does not allow.   It also needs a living connection to the community that corporate ownership has destroyed or ignored.

If Shaw was smart, they'd take a very hands off ownership style on the three stations they picked up. 

 

 

Stephen Gordon

Michelle wrote:

I agree with Farmpunk and LTJ about the fact that "hard reporting" - that is, basic reporting of the news - doesn't really happen that much online.  It's still the mainstream news doing the reporting, and mostly all we've done online is link to it and comment on it. 

I think our strength right now is our commentary, but it's true that we really need to fill the gaps and do straight news as well.

But the problem is, of course, money.  Most of us who work in alternative media have "day jobs" and we're not independently wealthy.  So we can't afford to donate full days to chasing stories, which is what it takes to break news on a daily basis.  So we have to figure out a new model for straight news too.

As a general rule, that sounds right. During the last election, Paul Wells asked political bloggers to go beyond commenting on the G&M headline stories and actually provide facts that the MSM wasn't covering - things like what happened at their local all-candidate's meeting, for example. I don't know how many did, though.

But there are cases where the blogosphere is a serious alternative to the MSM. In the US (sadly, not so much in Canada), there are many, many professional economists who are blogging, and their collective expertise easily outmatches the analyses put out by the MSM. OTOH, research is our day job, so it's not that much of an additional effort.