Sunday, May 17, 2009

Journalism, Dudley Doright Style

"Help, help! I'm being oppressed!"

Such is the essential battle cry from the Bruce duo, Sanford and Brown, in a Washington Post article entitled Laws That Could Save Journalism. They are apparently helpless, tied to Internet Protocol railroads tracks as the Google train heads their way.

Bruce and Bruce attempt to make the case that in order for journalism to survive the digital onslaught of Google and bloggers and linking (oh my!), the legislative branch needs to get on the stick and change the rules.

Hey, WaPo...change your robots.txt file to disallow Google and see what happens. You have the power. You could pull the trigger at any time. My prediction is that your traffic drops 80% in the first week. I'm sure your online advertising and marketing teams would stand behind this decision.

Bruce (one of them, or maybe both) suggests loosening up ownership restrictions, because the public always benefits from monopoly? Let's see, it usually leads to higher prices, less choice, and eliminates competition. Sounds like America to me!

They also recommend changing tax policy to benefit the press - because business taxes are the root cause of rapidly dropping circulation and people wanting their information delivered in a different manner, right?

I never, ever go to the Washington Post website unless I find a link from some other site (blog, commentary, etc.) that looks interesting. Did you hear that, WaPo? NEVER.

So if you want to enforce some rule that says other sites can't link to your content or paraphrase it, or apply fair use principals, you'll lose my traffic and that of others like me.

With a news aggregator, I can quickly drill down and find what I want to read. I neither have the time nor the inclination to noodle around the WaPo site, hoping to stumble onto something.

Stop looking for a government bailout or a rule change, and embrace capitalism. I know it's hard, especially when you supported capitalism when it was successful at knocking off your competitors, but you don't get to pull a switcheroo now that you're the prey instead of the predator.

Watch this, WaPo...I'm going to link to your commentary. You'll probably get a couple of visitors because I did that. I'll expect a check in the mail for sending business your way.

Laws That Could Save Journalism

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