Continued attempts to justify the old journalism model against disruptive influences has reached the point for me where I can’t pay attention anymore. I just can’t. I’ve moved past it, and I’m unable to figure out, for the life of me, why others can’t or won’t. It’s honestly so pathetic and boring that I feel sorry for those still spouting this crap and even more for the traditional publications that publish these laments.
Can we please just turn the page?
The latest is the wailing of Leonard Downie Jr, the former executive editor of the Washington Post. He gets speaking engagements due to his resume, and last night, according to PaidContent.org, he was in London to deliver the prestigious James Cameron Memorial Lecture at London’s City University.
Downie criticised online aggregators for filling their websites “with news, opinion, features, photographs and video that they continuously collect — some would say steal — from other national and local news sites”.
The Huffington Post was founded in 2005 by socialite and columnist Arianna Huffington and earlier this year overtook the New York Times website in terms of traffic.
But Downie questioned how the blogging and aggregation site got this traffic. “Revealing photos of and stories about entertainment celebrities account for much of the highly touted web traffic to the Huffington Post… Though they purport to be a new form of journalism, these aggregators are primarily parasites living off journalism produced by others,”
I must say that it takes balls to go to London and spit at the practice of titillation to drive traffic. Londoners invented it, but that’s a minor issue. Earlier in the week, talented New York Times business reporter Peter Goodman left to go to work for The Huffington Post. Why? Because he was tired of the tired old view-from-nowhere, as Jay Rosen calls it. He wanted the freedom to express himself, and the Post gives that to him.
“Parasites?” What are you smoking, Mr. Downie? Aggregators conveniently help people find your stuff and SEND YOU TRAFFIC!
Downie went on:
“Credible, verifiable journalism about what is important in life is needed more than ever amidst the babble of the blogosphere and social networks.”
This is not only BS; it’s downright insulting. Let me say again that the decline in trust in the press began in 1976, at the very pinnacle of the glory of Mr. Downie’s paper, The Washington Post. Blogs didn’t come along until the turn of the century, and social networks came after that. So this vaunted “credible, verifiable journalism” of which Mr. Downie speaks is neither, at least not in the minds of the only people who matter — public it is supposed to serve. Every time you point your finger at others, Mr. Downie, you have three fingers pointing back at you.
It’s an old debating trick to put your opponent as far outside your framing of the issue as possible, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. People like Leonard Downie Jr. actually believe what they’re saying, and that’s what’s really so pathetic.
I keep thinking of Dylan. “Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand, for the times, they are a-changin.”