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I saw a friend in Winnipeg mention the possibility that with all the cutbacks to journalism in North America over the past few months… we might be seeing media move to a paradigm where almost all journalists work on a freelance basis and sell their stuff to whatever outlet requires it.

I have to admit, maybe this is a fear of the future speaking, but this seems like a horrible horrible HORRIBLE idea. I can’t help but think about Chomsky’s propaganda model. Making everyone freelancers would be like ramping up the effect of the ownership and funding filters.

Journalists would take no risks if they had to worry about where their next job was going to come from. Who would do investigative pieces, which don’t really tend to make money anyway? We’d go from an already celebrity heavy discourse to one that was exclusively about the vapid tastes of Paris Hilton, or what happened on Dancing With HasBeens last night….

I mean the other thing to consider is that maybe a freelance model would allow for more voices though. If there wasn’t an established body of “journalists” maybe you would see more turnover, at least in terms of seeing lots of different reporters report maybe a bit less than they usually do.

No… I think it’s a bad idea. Totally wouldn’t work. It would be exploited; we’d set labour rights for journalists back. The outlets would just employ the same freelancers repeatedly – the ones they knew wouldn’t rock the boat (because you still don’t want to criticize those advertisers and you don’t want to risk that someone new would…) only as freelancers they’d have even less security, no pensions, nada. So you’d have exploited reporters delivering less risky journalism. Sounds like a bad idea to me.

1 comment

1 Ashraf { 10.18.09 at 11:57 pm }

Maybe. However, with a more abundant source of writers, you could also recreate the new institutions that direct and release the media…maybe. :)

by the way, I have linked your blog from mine, and people are clicking over to read your words of wisdom (my stats thingy says so).

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