Everyday Semiotics

Sunday, January 03, 2010


From an Ars Technica report on the Dec. 1-2, 2009, Federal Trade Commission summit:

Danny Sullivan of blog Search Engine Land "came close to making the larger point that even 'real' journalists are parasites, relying almost totally on unpaid sources who contribute information to the 'aggregator' (the reporter), who eventually earns a paycheck based on information gleaned freely from elsewhere."

Without having been there it's hard to envision how someone could have "come close" to making this point. But that's irrelevant because the point is quite true, regardless of who uttered it. With the exception of the compensated confessional interview (which, for example, Tiger Woods must inevitably give) or the cash-lubricated exclusive a la State of Play, the bulk of hard news reporting relies on the free exchange of information.

Sometimes there is a non-monetary quid pro quo, where the source gains something (perhaps notoriety, perhaps revenge) by providing information. This may be the analog to a blogger linking to the original reportage. The unspecified, hoped for, contingent compensation there is web traffic.



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