Scholarly Journals' Premier Status Is Diluted by Web, Media and Money

May 23rd

The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about smaller upstarts and the web challenging the business models of of big time academic publishers. It will be interesting to see how far advertising can take search companies before publishers get squeezed to the point where they revolt or make demands that spread to a critical mass.

In other, somewhat related news, Bill Moyers addressed the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis about a week ago.

One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at "Now" didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.

he continues...

These "rules of the game" permit Washington officials to set the agenda for journalism, leaving the press all too often simply to recount what officials say instead of subjecting their words and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading. ... Objectivity is not satisfied by two opposing people offering competing opinions, leaving the viewer to split the difference.

Later he comments on the Journal:

But I confess to some puzzlement that the Wall Street Journal, which in the past editorialized to cut PBS off the public tap, is now being subsidized by American taxpayers although its parent company, Dow Jones, had revenues in just the first quarter of this year of $400 million.

In other related news, Friday Ask Jeeves announced they bought out Excite Europe.

Any way you slice it, there are going to be a few gatekeepers to this thing we call the web, and to most media outlets in general. The more there are the better it is for consumers, and for that reason I might start trying a bit harder to use Google and Yahoo! a bit less.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but anyone who knows about SEO should see it as a personal responsibility to make sure people find what issues you feel are important.

Earlier today a friend of mine told me of a site he was creating about an ongoing, rarely covered, & brutal civil war.

Published: May 23, 2005

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