Internet Economics: Traffic Trumps Ethics And Content Quality

Six years ago, NetHawk began dipping its toes into the social networking waters with a CEO blog and a site called ITFeedstore.  The goal was to aggregate relevant Information Technology content and syndicate it to our existing communities.  The process was automated picking up RSS and other feeds and notifying our audience when stuff they liked was updated.  The business model was to place ads in the feeds between the different posts and fit the niches we serviced.  Investors didn’t get it and the model was replaced with the new blog site here.

In spite of the fact that print was proclaimed dead and blog sites multiplied like out-of-work reporters.  The advent of tools like Word Press fueled more growth and soon everyone had their own web site and hopes of becoming the next giant publisher.  There have been successes and it surely seems as if there will be many more.  But what of the cost to journalism and what of institutions that were noted for producing the sort of quality one was used to in periodicals that had been around for years and claimed to be hurt so much by this incursion of the public into the domain of the publisher that they wanted taxpayer bailouts.
In a letter published by Harper’s Washington editor Ken Silverstein, he proclaimed "content-free" journalism and attempted to render the word content a four-letter epithet.  This is nothing new for Internet pioneers who have listened to the whining of those hard-copy stalwarts who have pimped the idea that only a printed copy of the word was trustworthy.  After all, how could anyone trust what you read on the [Internets]?
Since then, we’ve heard rumors about how even the NY Times, evidently in an effort to save the bottom line, have been in secret meetings with politicians crafting and framing a way to scare the public into buying into the fact that we must cut down old growth trees – which the NYTimes owns – in order to preserve the integrity of the published word, and that the public should accept spending tax dollars to bale out another set of billionaire scumbags.  Even Rupert Murdoch is claiming he will one day, soon,bv  try to charge people for his web site content, yet he won’t take my name off his endless stream of SPAM trying to get me to go to his site.
Additionally, "real" writers, like Stephen L. Carter, proclaimed the need for help:  "Carnage is everywhere. Advances slashed, editors fired, publicity at subsistence levels, entire imprints vanished into thin air."  In spite of the fact that approval ratings for print media rank right up there with the likes of our stellar lawmakers, out-of-work, putative, journalists had plenty of time on their hands to nag their way into our wallets, and most had few other skills to bring home the bacon.

Words, being words, it is not surprising that the public has not taken this too seriously.  What is surprising though is that so many online blog sites, including those claiming to serve the public interest are willing to allow the sort of comments you find everywhere.  Just this morning, in an attempt to cover the ongoing saga on Facebooks’ Mark Zuckerberg, with 400 million allegedly interested members, the notable FastCompany, apparently also covering the story, and once a favorite four-color print magazine, that went bankrupt, contained one flacid comment by James F. of Fenzda proclaiming:

        "Ideas are only 5% of success. Facebook succeeded because of Mark putting in the hard work and drive behind trying to make it a huge success. He had gathered funding, etc. ConnectU had every opportunity and the same ones Mark had in the beginning, would they not? I’m sure Chevy or Nissan wasn’t the first ones to invent the car?"
Flacid I say because James also added three links to his own articles totally unrelated to the story.  So the game here is, write a couple of seemingly relevant comments, then you get to place your link inside their site and get yourself some traffic.  Beyond Fenzda’s self serving and gratuitous comments, there were four other identical comments adding up to the sort of rubbish that is far too common.  Like the so-called old line press, objectivity is not important, only getting your pimps out there is and Google sees it all as a positive in the fight for rankings.
If the public has ignored the old line print publishers in lieu of the instant gratification of typos and ephemeral objectivity, what then will rise to the top of the heap?  Will the title Community Manager replace the likes of the Menchen’s, Stone’s and Dillard’s of the world?  Will journalism schools go the way of law schools producing writers that are paid by the words they can cut and paste and appropriate from other sources, and will the public buy into the same way they aren’t fussy about where pop music actually originated?
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