Journalists Are Aggregators

Journalists Are Aggregators Too (And That’s A Good Thing) reports Techdirt.

“A bunch of folks have passed along this blog post from the Zunguzungu blog, which notes that journalists are aggregating too. I don’t like the use of the word “thieves” here, as I believe (yet again) that it’s a misleading and wrong use of the term, but I believe the usage here is in comparing the claims of some journalists that aggregators are “thieves.”

The real problem, however, is that journalists are, by their nature, thieves of words. You can call it what you like; you can say “Possibly I am old-fashioned,” and talk about how “actual journalists are laboring at actual history, covering the fever of democracy in Arab capitals and the fever of austerity in American capitals” (Keller) or you can brag about the “148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism” (Huffington), but all this “old fashioned” stuff is just a way of covering over something really basic about what “actual” journalists “traditionally” do, all the time: write down what other people say. They can exercise editorial discretion in how they integrate and harmonize the various quotes they’ve aggregated. They can confirm, they can contextualize, and they can (very rarely) manage to witness something with their own two eyes. They can produce collages out of stolen scraps. And they should do these things. But at the core of the journalistic process is the act, inescapably, of taking other people’s texts, weaving them together, and then placing them under your byline (with appropriate citation) and profiting from the activity.”

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