Monday, August 03, 2009

Money Seems to Buy the Moral High Ground in Journalism

Betsy Phillips analyzes a clockwork news market:
When you write a story about someone, she gives you her words for free. In fact, it's unethical for you to pay her for her words.

She gets nothing in return for giving you her words except attention. That's the foundation of the business--someone gives something to the reporter for free.

Now, then, you add value to her words. You analyze them and add to them with other facts. And for that you get paid. But not as much as your boss. Who does not get paid as much as his boss. Who does not get paid as much as his boss. On up the line.

That's how capitalism works, of course, the farther away you are from production, the more we pay you. The less grunt work you can figure out a way to avoid, the more we reward you.

So, why is it that it's okay for you to take something that someone produced for free, for which you give attention in return, and not okay for Gawker?

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