Access journalism is poison
Dec 14, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"I was good at the access game," writes Dave Winer. "I traded ideas and news with reporters, and in return they wrote nice things about me and my product. I'm sure many of them actually liked our products, but the reason they looked at them, or even heard of them, was this exchange of favors." I'm quite sure this still goes on (I'm not a part of it because I can't be counted on to write nice things, or anything at all - not that I'm special or gifted or anything, it's just that my paycheque doesn't depend on these favours). This is in response to Margaret Sullivan's piece in the the NY Times on the "chummish" Dealbook Conference, and Felix Salmon's follow-up, which essentially dismisses Sullivan's piece as hypocritical. "Sullivan could pick any NYT story at random, and the chances that she would consider it “adversarial”, or performing any kind of “watchdog” role, would be very low indeed." Winer gets to the hearty of the problem. "People who are close friends with the people they cover aren't really covering them. If that's all there is, then we aren't getting news. And that leads to huge problems. Open technologies are ignored because there's no marketing budget for them. Housing markets are turned into gambling casinos by people who already have more money than they could ever spend. Ordinary middle class people are turned out of their own homes. There are real consequences to this system."

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