Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Open Source Media – Thumbs Down

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When the idea for Open Source Media – then known as Pajama Media – was first bandied about, I was intrigued and asked for their prospectus. There were some serious bloggers involved, and they were people entitled to a hearing. However, after reading the prospectus, I had the feeling of being conned. It was pretty clear that in signing up I would be giving up the editorial control of my own blog and that the lion’s share of whatever money there was would be going to the big bloggers setting the thing up. While I don’t wish to impute bad motives to the OSM founders, it looked remarkably like a Ponzi scheme. I passed.

So now, with a splashy launch in New York City, flying in the top bloggers and putting them up at the W, the scheme looks just like what I feared – a lot of gravy for the big bloggers and not much left for the rest. Isn’t this already the situation with ads and links? Why should I, a small blogger, contribute to this and give up control of my writing at the same time? What, exactly, am I supposed to get out of this?

Dean Barnett at Soxblog gives one plausible reason:

As a blogger, I’m a second class pundit. But when I’m doing a story for the Weekly Standard, my phones calls to Senators, Governors, Nobel Laureates and even James Carville get returned.

The reason the calls get returned is because when I’m representing the Standard, I’m providing access to an audience that the targets of my calls want to reach. The Standard offers a level of prestige and gravitas that serves me and my sources well.

OSM should be able to do the same thing for its citizen-journalists.

Dean is a fan of OSM, and I have great respect for his writing, but I’m not as optimistic as he is. I suspect that bloggers who get that sort of access will quickly become addicted to it and lose their independence and objectivity. I could be wrong, but the journalistic community and the political community have a way of absorbing those who stumble into their parlor.

There are other disturbing signs. Ann Althouse, by no means a Lefty, has been given the DU and Kossack treatment for daring to criticize the venture:

Also, Charles Johnson linked to this post to note my bad taste — the “fluids” wisecrack — and this set off his commenters who just started wildly insulting me — hilariously assuming I’m a big lefty and using lots of bad taste insults against me. How does that make sense? If they are outraged at my bad taste, as Charles suggests they be, then why aren’t the comments primly proper?

Sexist, ad hominem, and sometimes racist slurs are hurled at right-of-center female bloggers all the time, but not typically from the Right. Frankly, we should be above that sort of thing. OSM is no more above criticism than anything else, and it’s not being helped by the herd mentality.

Meanwhile, the invaluable Moxie calls a spade a spade:

What exactly is OSM? Don’t ask me, I’m not that smart! And it seems the more I read about PJ Media/OSM, the less I know:

“Many details of OSM remain unsettled. For example, OSM wants to create a mechanism for citizen journalists, including bloggers, to submit original news during natural disasters, civil unrest and other newsworthy events. Simon said organizers still have to come up with ways to check submissions for accuracy.”

Silly, trite details. fact checking, and all. Critics have noted that there is already a vehicle for this purpose, known as THE F*CKING INTERNET.

OSM may yet take off and succeed at whatever it plans to do. But it’s hardly a revolution and it’s not going to impact the vast majority of bloggers. If anything, it will dampen the great leveller of the blogosphere – merit, replacing it with a self-appointed group of guardians, many of whom are there because they happened to get in early. I’ll still pass.

Update Perhaps I should have waited. Iowahawk explains all you need to know about OSM.


Written by martinipundit

November 17, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Posted in General

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