Harnessing the Work of Bloggers

Techorati has announced a new business relationship with the Associated Press. Read more about it at Technorati Teams With The Associated Press to Connect Bloggers To More Than 440 Newspapers Nationwide.

I was once told that the real definition of a professional is someone who gets paid for what they do. We know that there is more to the definition. I bet if you were to compare bloggers with journalists you’d find we’re both professionals.

Real bloggers write and link because they love. We’re news and politics junkies. We like our info fresh and witty. This propels many of use to write like mad. So we write to give other bloggers what we want from them.

Most of us don’t do it for pay. So what happens when corporations like Technorati and AP get together to aggregate bloggers work and put it up on their websites? Pro business people are always saying nothing is free. So how is Technorati and AP paying bloggers for the services we’re providing them?

One form of payment could be the ‘Neato Effect’. This is when you see your name or something you wrote in the paper. The first couple of times its a rush. The realization that hundreds if not tens of thousands of people are reading what you wrote. For most people this rush is payment enough. What happens when you have a blog and millions of people all over the world read your writing every day? What about when a smart weekly newspaper recognizes you as an expert and pays you to write it? You become a professional. Many bloggers have become pros in one way or another. The ‘neato effect’ as a form of payment just ain’t going to do it for me. Or many of other good bloggers out there I suspect.

Another form of payment is in website traffic. If a local or national newspaper site links to your blog post whether purposely or automatically via Technorati you should get a few more hits. What is that worth to most bloggers? In dollars and cents probably not much. You need tens of thousands of unique visitors to make money on advertising. So a few more from a newspaper of two won’t make a real financial contribution. If Digg or Slashdot links to you then your hits might jump for a day or so but it’ll also cripple your site too. Your Google ranking could increase over time. This might help your ad revenue. But in the end isn’t this just gaming the system?

What if you don’t care about making money on your blog? What does Technorati, AP, or newspaper website have to pay you with then? How about respect as an subject matter expert. That’s good for some karma and community value. How about influence? Political power? Publicity for good causes? Social change? There has to be some other kind of fair trade value.

The fact is for profit groups (newspapers) and a not for profit groups (bloggers) exist with different values that aren’t always compatible. Even if you’re a blogger and want to make money doing it do you think newspapers need your blog enough to pay you well? Hell they can’t seem to pay stringers very well.

Bloggers freely available content is being hijacked. Technorati is helping us find each other and in return is cashing in huge. So will their partners. Main stream media needs us. We’re vanguards of the future. We write in the trenches and get dirty doing it. Its true that many pro journalists have seen the light and are innovating too. I respect old school journalists. Really!

Its the masses of people creating on read/write web that will fill the bank accounts of businesses in the future. How will individuals get in on this? The future will be a giant negotiation for digital labor. We have serious leverage. Content creators like bloggers have real value in their ability to be creative.

Until newspapers decided to admit bloggers are another kind of professional and treat us as such these new relationships just won’t be fair at all.

NPR is Commercial Radio

When you think of advertising at National PUBLIC Radio you think of unobtrusive announcements. Commercial businesses donate money in exchange for a short mention. This type of promotion can have a informative air. When done properly, these promotions can be valuable to communities. Unfortunately many national and local NPR stations are playing full on ads. They have a much more commercial feel than they used to.

Have you noticed this change? Hundreds of other people have. They’ve complained to the NPR Ombudsman about Wal-Mart ads on NPR. Wal-Mart is the anti-sponsor for traditional NPR listeners. The problem is not the fact that Wal-Mart advertises itself on NPR but that they’re using the radio network to repair their image because of illegal labor practice, etc.

An article on the front page of the Friday, March 17, Wall Street Journal called As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line lays out the details of a big change in fund raising at NPR. (I actually read it in the paper version.)

It appears a study conducted for NPR found that listeners hate pledge drives. (Surprise! Me too.) This and a serious decrease in Federal funding, neo-cons trying to destroy the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB funds NPR), and the dot com bubble burst pushed NPR to raise money more like a commercial radio station. NPR and it’s affiliate stations are non-profits… remember!?!

I’m all for non-profits finding new ways to be self sustaining but NPR has gone to far. If NPR wants to retain their non-profit tax free status they shouldn’t be selling commercials like for-profit media.

What can NPR do to raise money and be non-commercial?

1) First realize the telephone pledge drive is dead. Get used to it. Abandon it once and for all. Quite trying to reinvent it. Have a funny mock funeral for it on air. It’ll be fun.

2) Get *really* creative about fundraising. Find new ways to engage your listeners. Give them a REAL sense of community. Make them coop owners of your station(s)/Network. (ex. REI, Weaver Street Market (Carrboro, NC), etc.)

3) Create attractive online community sites like flickr, digg, or del.icio.us. Social networking powered fundraising is where it’s at. Without a feeling of community listeners won’t give. I know many NPR listeners aren’t computer geeks. But online communities will only grow and can support you financially.

4) Hire a consultant that understands network centric advocacy. Invigorate your grassroots. Run your organizations bottom up. Not top down. Think flash mob fundraising.

5) Renew your commitment to being a non-profit community organization. Create a LARGE PR campaign to shout it loud and proud. “We are a not-for-profit community station!”

6) Publicly renounce commercial and political ads. Cancel your contracts with Wal-Mart. Tell your listeners. Create a public campaign to match the money commercial sponsors used to give you.

Try these suggestions out NPR. We love what you do – most of the time – and need your style of news now more than ever!

NYT sues Pentagon for NSA documents

It seems the New York Times has FINALLY become more aggressive in getting to the bottom of exactly who, what, where, when, and why the National Security Agency and others spied on US citizens. This Reuters article called NYT sues Pentagon over domestic spying has more info. (Reuters says the Pentagon is the NSA’s parent organization.)

An important point they leave out in this article is that fact the NYT held onto the domestic spying story for over a year. They even consulted the government before going public with it. Bush can call the leak a “shameful act” all he wants but he allowed it to happen and knew it was going to happen way before the general public did. Why? Because Bush and his cronies want to maintain an appearance of government as usual, plausible deniability, protect a falling approval rating, etc. If they held this news any longer they’d be impeached by now.

Context is so important to news stories. Main stream media doesn’t provide context very well. You either have to be paying VERY good attention or know someone that you trust who does. This is a big reason why blogs are so important! Blogs provide context and connect the dots in the media history landscape!

The Mainstreaming of American Paranoia

Since governments first appeared on this planet citizens have worried that they were being spied upon. George Orwell’s book 1984 opened millions of eyes to a fictional dystopia. That world has never seemed so real to so many people. Until now.

In an effort to stay sane we suppressed the concept that our government would watch and listen to all that we do. This coping mechanism has helped to keep us blissfully ignorant. Sometimes we flirt with the idea that we’re being watched. It seems to be one of our favorite plots for movies and TV. The very idea that we can’t see who watches terrifies and thrills us at the same time. It is truly a post-modern modern illness.

It may not have been until now that the majority – aka “the mainstream” – of American citizens actually believe they are being spied upon. It is no longer just the hobby of tin foil hat wearing nuts. Nor is it the sole literary domain of so called mad geniuses like Philp K. Dick or Franz Kafka.

How did this come about? Why did it take so long for us the care en mass? Will we do something about it? What can you do to increase privacy in your life? What about the Internet? How do we retain our privacy there?

Right now, in the year 2006, President Bush has admitted that he approved clandestine spying on American citizens. Bush has claimed “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” Most Americans don’t care if the government spies on terrorist or anyone remotely connected to them. Many of us instinctually do not believe Bush. We know governments and corporations will not stop at spying on terrorist and suspected terrorists alone.

A new story at the Washington Post called “Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects: NSA’s Hunt for Terrorists Scrutinizes Thousands of Americans, but Most Are Later Cleared” says that the US government with permission from Bush has spied on thousands of US citizens with no connection to terrorism. (That number is only in the few years Bush has been President! It doesn’t seem like a short amount of time I know…)

Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.

Mainstream media (MSM) is more manipulated by government than ever before. So much so we’ve become numb to all their reports. Many of us ignore them outright. But still our unconscious hears it, so we are affected involuntarily. Our absolute trust of all information is gone.

This makes it especially surprising that the MSM would report something so shocking and so damning about the President of the United States. (No prize in investigative journalism is due to the NY Times for breaking this story. They sat on it for months and told the President that they were releasing it to the public. Who knows was removed before we read it?) But is this shocking news enough to finally convince “mainstream” US citizen that they are being spied upon? Will we ALL finally question the elected officials we voted for long enough to put an end to illegal spying by any government or corporation?

O’Reilly’s Rant Against San Francisco

Bill O’Reilly’s insane ranting shouldn’t be a surprise but this bit of hatred needs to be heard and remembered. He was “Criticizing a ballot measure passed by 60 percent of San Francisco voters urging public high schools and colleges to prohibit on-campus military recruiting” [Media Matters]

From the November 8 broadcast of Fox News’ The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly:

O’REILLY: Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I’m not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I’m the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, “Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you’re not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead.”

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

O’Reilly hates San Francisco MP3

We love you San Francisco! You might say I am help O’Reilly by sharing his views with you. But we’re swiming in a sea of information and it’s easy to forget shit like this. Hell I’d like to just ignore it. But we can’t. We have to remember how corporate media like Fox News and robber barons like Rupert Murdoch poison our country and PLANET with this hate created to sell ads.

Via: Media Matters

UK pulling out of Iraq next may?

The UK paper The Observer reported on Sep. 25 that “British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month”. There doesn’t appear to be any public document or timetable – remeber how that shrub doesn’t talk timetables? Could this signify actual movement towards ending the war in Iraq? via: Richard Stallman

ConvergeSouth-Ethics: What are the rules?

ConvergeSouth – Fri. Oct. 7
Ethics: What are the rules?
Meshing new tech with journalistic values
Lex Alexander and Jay Rosen

This is stuff I heard and captured my attention enough to write down. Not a complete transcript. 😀

MI = My Impression

Trust is estabilish differently umong blogers than it is umong the Main Stream Media.

You can’t take the “ten commandments” of ethics at the MSM and then try to use it to judge blogs on how they are doing.

Dave Winer says, “You sound so maternalistic like it’s your job to help us. Who are you to tell us how to edit our writting.”

(MI: I can’t get Dave’s exact question. This is a paraphrase…)

It’s a waste of my time to do interviews for 45 minutes where only tweleve words are going to be quoted. I don’t trust their editing. -Jay Rosen

Context: Dave Winer wants to know why we should trust a newspaper to edit our comments on their blog.

My Question:
The entire blogosphere is not journalistic in style or nature.
In the context of journalism, what do you think is the importance of these blogs?

(My question wasn’t formed well. Jay and Lex didn’t really understand it. It seems so by their answers.)

The first person to figure out how to use a blog to write true journalism news will be famous. – Jay Rosen

Where do you see blogs in the next 5-10 years? Will it hit the mainstream? -JOMC student

WKRN – broadcast journalist that get blogging.

Jay Rosen says, journalist exec. response to bloggers: “You don’t mean I have to put my name on what these blogers say!?!?!”

Should Pat Robertson be allowed in the UK?

I first read about Pat Robertson’s call for the US Government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from the Bolivian Blog. Then last night John Stewart on the Daily Show opened with the quip that he can’t even say “fuck” or “Fuuuuuucccck” without it being bleeped, but if you own your own TV network (as Robertson owns the Christian Broadcasting Network) you can call for the murder of a head of state.

This morning on the BBC for colonist via NPR (aka BBC Newshour) I heard that British Home Secretary Charles Clarke claims he will begin enforcing a new “anti-terror law” that will deport any non-citizen in the UK that does things like glorify terrorism, incites violence, preaches hate, etc. Still no word on exactly what actions are on the list of “unacceptable behaviour”. They don’t seem to be able to apply the same rules to British citizens. They can’t just deport them. Fact is all the men who bombed the London tube and bus were British citizens.

Just as the BBC show was ending they read a email from a woman in Waltham, Massachusetts. She asked if Pat Robertson would be on a list of non-citizens to be deported for glorifying violence and preaching hate? I wonder if the UK will keep a list of non-citizens who are not allowed into the county who’ve preached hate? Hmm the righteous sword of anti-terrorism rhetoric cuts both ways me thinks.

Media Workers Low Salaries

Ed Cone links to Lex Alexander’s post (Greensboro N&R) about the annual media salary survey and writes, “Newspapers are often cash machines, but the big money goes to the owners, not the reporters.”

From Lex Alexander:

Median salaries ranked as follows:
Online publishing: $32,000
Cable TV: $30,000
Consumer magazines: $27,000
Daily newspapers: $26,000
Weekly newspapers: $24,000
TV: $23,492
Radio: $23,000

You combine those print salary figures — “median,” remember, means half of those surveyed make more and half make even less…