Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Provide Free Content; Screw A Reporter

© 2009 Stan Spire

Originally when I launched this endeavor it was the Anti-Press Ezine (APE for short). I had an email subscription list with a lot of readers, but my host went on to other things and so here I am with this blog.

I got tired of the Anti-Press bit, especially with using the editorial “we” that made me sound too important or just suffering from multiple personality. So I decided to have a new identity for easier “branding.” Thus I became Stan Spire. (If you’re good at anagrams, you’ll see how I can up with that name.)

Anti-Press started as being a counterpoint to the local press, the daily Plattsburgh (news)Paper. Then it expanded to be “anti” about lots of stuff, the media and anything else that irked me.

It’s been claimed that bloggers like me are responsible for the crisis in the newspaper industry. Newspapers are folding, young readers aren’t replacing older ones –- blah, blah, blah, sob story. Of course, no one ever gets to the heart of the matter: that most newspapers suck.

But that fact is ignored. Instead, the unwashed masses are told bloggers are killing newspapers because we provide free content. We don’t charge. We’re not greedy for-profit corporations.

So when a reporter is kicked to the curb, blame it on the bloggers.

Take a good look at your local newspaper. Is it like the daily here in Plattsburgh? Are you finding more free content being published, letters, opinion pieces, photos, from the readers? The Plattsburgh (news)Paper now features a full page of photos taken by “citizen journalists,” images of class field trips, awards ceremonies, whatever. Not great photojournalism but hey – it’s free!

The Plattsburgh Paper used to run a feature called “Speak Out.” Readers could phone in and rant about anything. But someone had to go through all the messages and try to decipher the semi-coherent diatribes from the hillbillies. That was too costly.

So “Freak Out” – I mean, “Speak Out” – has returned after years of a well-deserved slumber. Thanks to email the stake was pulled out of SO and it lives again. This time the unpaid filler can be inexpensively harvested: just copy and paste the rant onto the page.

And there’ are also special requests for readers to participate, like “Write A Letter To President Obama.” That fills up space.

After a while enough suckers – I mean, citizen journalists – will be producing a good share of the paper. And with enough “news” material surrounding the ads, why bother having so many reporters and photographers? They cost money. They can be disagreeable, unlike some untrained sap so happy to see his name in print, proud that his anonymous comment or uncredited pic got in da paper.

When it comes to all the free content putting professional journalists out in the cold, don’t blame the bloggers.

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