Here’s a little example of what’s wrong with journalism these days . . .
Today I received a “pingback” notification from wordpress asking for my approval. For those not in the know, a pingback is sent when another site links to yours. In this case, a company that sells running shoes linked to my recent review of the New Balance 904 TR shoes.
Ironically, back in the 1990s I made a fair amount of money reviewing outdoor gear for magazines. It’s true: I was paid as much as $1 per word (generally these reviews were 500-800 words) by magazines such as Outside, Snow Country (formerly published by the New York Times Company) and Rocky Mountain Sports for my written opinion about things such as running shoes, flashlights, bike lights, snowshoes, backpacks, outdoor clothing, cameras, cross-country ski equipment, tents, and I can’t remember what all else.
Some of these can still be found on places like Outside magazine’s website (just click and then search for my name) — the specific work-for-hire contract ensured the magazine could archive these reviews online until the end of time. But what did I care? The work was fun, the pay was great and I got all sorts of swag, some of which I still use today.
Now, I review something for free on my blog, and some web-based shoe-sales site uses it to help boost sales. The pingback message asks if I want to approve the link, but I notice it’s already posted whether I like it or not. Plus, what good does it do me to disapprove it? I already wrote it for free.
How easily and thoughtlessly I did something gratis that I used to get $1 a word to do. I gave nearly $300 of expertise away and didn’t even get a free pair of shoes!
This is an example of what the Internet is doing to journalism. For all anyone knows the person who wrote that review has never run a step in his life. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The Internet has cheapened just about everything trained journalism professionals do. Newspapers and other news organizations give their work away for free these days. And so do journalists who blog or have a website.
Oh well, meanwhile a late evening shower moved through the area, cooling the air and leaving things smelling great around here. Pingback that.