Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why the NYT Won't Shut Me Down

Citing cuts at the New York Times, in part due to internet and blog-related substitutes which crowd out their circulation, CF wondered what would happen if newspapermen started behaving like lobbyists, constructing barriers to entry. She proposed two tactics newspapers could employ: promoting a fee for spreading information or endorsing a sort of licensing for publications.

The lobbyist logic is sound but I doubt we'll see either of those problems any time in the near future for three reasons.

1) Publications benefit from blogs just as they are harmed from them. Let us never forget that journalists have gotten pretty damn lazy over the decades; removing blogs would deny them one of their prime sources for information.

2) Newspapers aren't stupid and surely many are aware that these rules would be impossible to police. Like CF, I could re-create the blog and e-mail under an assumed name. Charging me would become impossible as would shaking me down for a license.

3) For as long as the First Amendment's been around, newspapers have been citing it as a hallmark of freedom and democracy (and to defend their industry). In way they are now victims of their own success; if they start screaming information should be controlled, the bullshit will be clear even to the public.

Of course in the long run, any or all of these could fall to the wayside. But for now, let's enjoy it while it lasts and not worry.

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