Alan Cowell, writing today in The New York Times (I could not find it in the National print edition delivered to my home, even though he makes a distinction between those who are reading online and those dinosaurs reading paper printed with ink), again asks the question that is burning a hole in the pockets of journalists everywhere: “Is Free News Really Worth the Price?”
Cowell prattles on about the Twitter messages and images coming out of bloody Iran, unfiltered, without perspective or context.
He describes himself as the last Reuters correspondent known to have to sent dispatches by carrier pigeon from Matabeleland. So, he has a different concept of Twittering and tweets.
Cowell makes the point so many of us have made recently and makes it well: “News gathering takes time, energy, courage, people, humility, creativity and layers of editorial oversight to guarantee the authenticity of the final product. For all the human flaws of those who gather, edit, check and analyze it, news allows people to judge for themselves whether the people they voted into office merit their trust and their tax dollars.”
To me, Cowell’s piece seems more of a lament for lost values, just another essay on the financial impotence of news organizations despite the importance to democracy and society of accurate, verified, yes, filtered news, information, commentary and images.
What is needed now is less woe-is-us and more journalists and editors and publishers standing up and saying we are here in a marketplace of ideas in a free market economy. We will not beg for your dollars and dimes but deliver information that earns your hearts, your minds, your wallets.