Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime Or A Minute

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Gab Goldenberg feels that Seth Is Wrong On Paid vs Free Journalism.  I am not clear on his reasons for saying that since I feel that Seth Godin would agree with much of what Gab has written.  For example Gab lists the reasons journalists used to get paid were that:

  1. They didn’t mostly leverage the branding that broad distribution got you. Only syndicated columnists typically did well enough to have book deals and speaking gigs that made them any decent money. This was wasted branding, imho.
  2. They covered stuff that most people would find it a chore to write up, like municipal politics (Oh no, they’re moving trash day to Sunday!) or that others were not vying to report and for which there was thus no competition (eg Watergate).

He goes on that nowadays, newspapers are mistakenly filling their pages with wire content. This commodifies them. As suggested previously, the path to saving newspapers is more journalism, not less! More research, less rehash!

It all sounds like the same hymn sheet to me.  Perhaps the title was to catch the eye just as that of Seth Godin’s was with Malcolm is wrong.  Seth Godin starts off as follows:

I’ve never written those three words before, but he’s never disagreed with Chris Anderson before, so there you go.  Free is the name of Chris’s new book, and it’s going to be wildly misunderstood and widely argued about.

The Malcolm referred to is Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, and someone who is always worth listening to. Seth Godin too is a little wide ranging in his diatribe but his final paragraph is the real meat:

Neatness is for historians. For a long time, all the markets for attention-based goods are going to be messy, which means that there are going to be huge opportunities for people (like you?) able to get that most precious asset (our attention) for free. At least for a while.

Indeed I think messy will now describe the Information space for ever.  There is essentially zero cost and zero barriers for anyone who wishes to add to this Tower of Babel. Two factors will dictate whether anyone can make money out of this. 

  1. Some (authors) will do it because they can stand out from the crowd and gain a following.
  2. Others (search engines) will make money because they can highlight what others may wish to find. 

Unfortunately for so many others who cannot get anyone’s attention, they will waste their sweetness on the desert air.

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