Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Value Of Journalism

There seems to be a lot of talk about ‘quality journalism’ these days. This is what Murdoch et al are hoping to charge for online.

But, er, the majority of news stories that now appear in any news outlet come from a very small number of sources such as Reuters, AP, PA and AFP. And, let's face it, the total crap that the majority of national newspapers have written over the past half a decade is totally valueless anyway. The libel laws in the UK have negated investigative journalism to our national shame and who really cares about the opinions of publishers and the meanderings of self obsessed columnists?

Even the BBC, where you can find this stuff for free anyway, is moving at a snail’s pace, whilst pulling the carpet from under the feet of any commercial online provider (the BBC's budget now exceeds the total value of the TV advertising market). And, as I have personally experienced recently, the quality of BBC journalism is totally biased by predefined agendas (a recent example was political correspondent Rory Cellan Jones blaming Google for the 'free journalism' mentality of the UK public whereas the BBC were not mentioned, but are clearly far more culpable).

Today when I need to find traffic conditions or the very latest news I’m far more likely to turn to Twitter or blogs. The writings of journalists are largely too slow, lazy, opinionated, badly resourced and controlled to be of any interest to me.

So, Murdoch believing that we will pay for his rhetoric and bile is misguided. Let’s face it ‘quality journalism’ emanating from the most political manipulative publisher since Hearst is at best an oxymoron. At worst it’s the dying breath of someone who has spent his life running roughshod over democracy in pursuit of money and believing that free people will pay for his dreadful view of the world (Fox News - enough said).

Journalism is valueless unless someone puts a value on it, and the reality is that in a world of real time communications the ability to string a sentence according to the demands of a media mogul is largely valueless. The ability to think for oneself, to blog, to tweet are far more valuable. And the ability to interpret, sift and decipher are equally valuable.

I have only once paid and subscribed to an online service – and ironically that was the new media site GigaOm. It was the worst investment I ever made. They just pass off some pathetic stories they make public anyway and provide no added value.

Murdoch might have won a passing, glancing fight with Google, but his world view is dimming fast. As someone who has watched his influence with horror, I shall surely enjoy watching his demise.