As if we needed any confirmation that times are tough for journalists, two stories in the past few days, report on how job losses have decimated the lives of people who worked for magazines and newspapers and now are unemployed.
The Journalism Shop reports “Former Los Angeles Times journalists continue to struggle with severe underemployment, a recent informal survey of 75 former staffers found. Four out of five of the respondents reported earning half — or less — of what they were paid at the Times. Thirteen percent of the respondents reported zero income.”
The New York Times writer David Carr, wrote in an article yesterday, “For those of us who work in Manhattan media, it means that a life of occasional excess and prerogative has been replaced by a drum beat of goodbye speeches with sheet cakes and cheap sparkling wine. It’s a wan reminder that all reigns are temporary, that the court of self-appointed media royalty was serving at the pleasure of an advertising economy that itself was built on inefficiency and excess. Google fixed that.”
His last sentence, whose subject is Google, explains so very much. Google is the force that is destroying free journalism around the world by stealing the work of thousands of men and women who write for a living. Google is perhaps the greatest threat to our freedom since a certain German came to power in 1933.
Why do I write this? Because the work of keeping democratic freedoms alive and viable requires that people remain well informed about what the politicians are doing. By robbing newspapers and magazines of their content, and publishing their content online for free, Google has made it impossible for print media to survive. This is not just a fantasy, it is a visible, measurable and empirically statistical crisis of journalism where one enormous company, worth billions, uses but does not reimburse all the other independent media companies on Earth.
Why is Google allowed to get away with so much merely because it the new technology? Atomic power was the new kid on the block in 1945. Why are we so blind to the dangers of this pernicious, powerful and essentially digital bully?