JULY 9, 2009 2:46PM

Media "watchdogs" need watching

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By King Kaufman Open Salonista RIRedinPA makes an interesting point in a comment on this blog's obsessive third post about the Cleveland Plain Dealer "reader representative" video:

"Let the CPD and the others attached to the dead and dying model of print newspapers rant on about their self importance over blogs, they're howling into the wind, but acknowledging them and getting into the kiddie pool of pudding to wrestle with them distracts from moving journalism forward."

True, but: Mmm, pudding.

Wait, that's not it. It's this: Co-author Katharine Mieszkowski and I agree with RIRedinPA's basic point. We agreed when we started this here Future of Journalism Blog that we would focus on the future, not on the death throes of the newspaper biz. We are aspiring to that, not always living up to it. Because let's face it: Pudding.

But in the case of Cleveland, these people aren't just going through death throes, though they certainly are doing that. They are promoting a dangerous and, in my view, evil idea. They want to restrict the First Amendment, the very cornerstone of our democracy, to try -- and almost certainly fail -- to protect their industry's bottom line. It's just as wrong when some blowhard in a newsroom in Cleveland attacks the Constitution as when the president does it.

And the Plain Dealer people are not just rogues. Here's DailyFinance's Jeff Bercovici on more support for copyright restriction from the trade group the National Newspaper Network.

This is the industry that is claiming it needs to be saved because of its vital role as a watchdog on government abuse. We're sorry, these people are saying, we have to burn the Constitution in order to save it.

If we're going to have a Future of Journalism worth talking about, we've got to watch these watchdogs, because they're foaming at the mouth.

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I think you should get as obsessive about this as you want. Although I don't think there would be much to fear about the first amendment. How would they compete in this new journalism world with countries who have a strong subsidized international media that isn't as dependent on the market economy, like Britain and Canada?

Plus would there be an opt out clause for better financed media that doesn't mind giving away news for free? You can't force people NOT to give away information. (Except maybe in court gag orders).
I think this is an interesting story. Keep us posted.

And now I'm going to go see if I can get my free download of Chris Anderson's FREE.
You promise meatloaf, I deliver pudding. : D I did see your clarification though and I think we should compromise and say Wednesday is leftovers day.

In my defense I am all for defending the Constitution, be it Vice Presidents with an Orwellian complex or some reporter at a midwest newspaper that is losing circulation faster than the virginity of a bunch of abstinence only kids at a church retreat up in Alaska.

Not sure if you caught my comment in one of the earlier post on this topic:

"After reading her column I'm not exactly sure what she is proposing. If she wants to curtail one site from posting a summary of an article with a link back to the originating site and the full article then I agree she nor the Marburger's understand the economics of the internet and how this is actually more beneficial to their news organizations. For example:

I don't read the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Ever. I have no intention of reading it. Ever. However, I do read The Beast and if there is a good chance if they summarized the dirty sheriff story there I would link back to the CPD to get the full article. Add one extra click to the number you present to advertisers. Multiply me by all the other people in the world who have no intention of ever reading the CPD but who now find themselves on its website through the courtesy of The Beast and other aggregators and it becomes significant.

On the other hand, if The Beast or some other aggregator is running the full article, even if it has a link back, well then I would think we don't need to rewrite any copyright laws as that in and of itself seems, to me, to be a violation of the CPD's copyright.

But as I said, before I would jump on the let's burn Schultz at the stake cause she wants to curtail free speech band wagon I would need to understand more of what they are speaking of when they say they want to put a 24-hour lock down on stuff. If it is this "Ideally, news originators' stories would be available only on their Web sites for the first 24 hours" I have no problem with it." If it is no reference or no other reporting on a story we are covering the former, they're clueless, if it is the latter they are absurd.

I don't think she was proposing that if they were first in with an online article on the death of MJ then no other media web land member including blogs could run a story on it, just that they couldn't lift the CPD's story and put it on their site for 24-hours.

But if she is proposing that either that they were first in and therefore no one else is allowed to report on it or that no one can summarize what they said and link back to them for a day I say good luck with that, way to drive yet another nail into the print newspaper coffin.

And though you mentioned it in the third paragraph of the third post on the video the meat and potatoes of that post was a comparison to Jarvis' circ numbers compared to Schultz's.

And that's where it began to stink up a bit, a see how much more important we are than printed papers odor if you will. Reverse that sentence and that's basically the driving point you and Katherine have been making against the likes of Cohen and the CPD.