Monday, April 13, 2009

Writing For Free-The Brave New World of Media

Most of us know what it is like to write for nothing. If you are a novelist then you probably wrote for years before getting paid. Writers of fiction write for something else than the almighty dollar. We write for passion, art, expression, life itself. Now it seems the newspaper business is talking about the same thing. We are all well aware of the demise of the major newspapers in the United States. Many reasons account for this and of course the biggest reason is people like us who now write for various sites and most of the time it is without compensation. The scuttle now is that newspapers will become nonprofit.

A great benefactor would allow the newspapers to continue doing their good work. Interesting. This supposes that society will not be served by the new nation of writers of which I am one. This supposes that the trained journalist...rather the Paid Journalist will do the hard investigative journalism so necessary for a thriving free press or rather a thriving democracy. This may be true. Professionals certainly have a leg up over amateurs and people just cutting their teeth on the new media.

But the truth is technology marches on. We are on the edge of the great media revolution that is taking place as we speak. We may still be served by our newspapers in various forms, but like the gas guzzler, most of them will simply disappear. The investigative press or a vigorous press that keeps our politicians and government officials honest is already here. We see it now on CNN in the I reports. We see it in the blogs or the websites like Smoking that brings down even novelist who tell a lie.

The hard truth is the old gumshoe reporter has been replaced by some guy over his garage still in his pajamas tapping out who just stole what from whom. The Internet has become a free wheeling sheriff of the Old West and just about nothing is secret if someone is willing to dig. And we now have millions who are willing to dig because likeminers in the early days of the Gold Rush they smell opportunity.

The opportunity is there for people who want to work hard and can survive these days of working for pennies or nothing. Because there will be a shakeout of sorts and the new players in the media game will emerge. Some are already here, but many are not ,and to think that some sort of life support could be put in place for old newspapers would be to ignore the revolution in our midst. Woe to those who don't see the guillotine for what it is.

Books by William Hazelgrove