Come On and Take a Free Ride

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Anyone who even remotely follows the debate over old media versus new has heard the refrain by now–bloggers and aggregators are parasites who are killing their hosts. But it turns out that new media isn’t the only group that likes to have others do their work for them. Old media has a long tradition of leeching.

J. H. Snider at Neiman Watchdog points out six major areas of old media parasitism, and comes to this conclusion:

Like a fish unaware that it is surrounded by water, many journalists complaining of new media parasitism appear to be blissfully blind to their own parasitism on sources and sources of sources. This is reflected in the widespread argument, also made at the Senate hearing, that old media represents the “first-generation” rather than the second or third generation of fact-finding and reporting. When I asked a prominent journalist about foreign correspondents’ common practice of reading obscure foreign newspapers for story ideas and then not attributing those sources in their own stories, he replied that he had never even thought of the matter.

A prominent journalist hadn’t stopped to consider whether or not he and his colleagues were guilty of the very things bloggers and aggregators get hammered for? Quelle horreur! All snark aside, I can’t really blame this unnamed journalist for not recognizing the similarities between old and new media. When you’re defending your turf, you look at what makes you different from those you perceive as the enemy, not what commonalities you share. I think banding together in some way is an inevitability; the only real question is how ugly the process will be.


Brian Spears's first collection of poetry, A Witness in Exile, is now available through Louisiana Literature Press, and at his personal website. He is the Poetry Editor for The Rumpus, and teaches poetry at Drake University. More from this author →