Over at Midnight Poutine we are treated to an instructive lesson in the difference between print journalism and online “coverage”. In fact, in a Baudrillard Memorial Moment, we come to embody the lesson our very selves. Chris DeWolf of urbanphoto gets a link to his piece in Saturday’s Gazette about the STM’s proposed smartcard system, Assertions is drawn into the fray due to an MP editor’s brief moment of confusion about whose blog is whose. And feels obligated to take a now-ritual morning swipe at the Gazette. Then steel glints, nostrils flare, and two transit herbs mix it up. Until the storm passes and love reigns once more.
(Not without this side pulling that move where you accidentally click “post” and the page doesn’t load, so you think you’re safe, but then you spend too much time continuing to polish your little words and by the time you post your interlocutor has already responded. Which makes you feel super swift and totally classy. Like Rochelle Lash.)
You see, print media pay people to research and write stories, and pay other people to edit them and remove their intemperate or inaccurate statements, because they exist in a context of responsibility and accountability. It is from this that the print media derive the sodden, flimsy vestiges of their fast-disintegrating authority. Whereas most online “media” don’t pay anyone to do fuck all, much less retain the authority they never had in the first place.
In Montreal, one of North America’s great transit and port cities, the English daily doesn’t pay anyone to regularly cover transportation. (Does it? See, that’s one of those intemperate and potentially-inaccurate statements that nobody’s getting paid to check!) Instead, it relies on freelancers to provide what coverage it can occasionally be stirred to provide. Because freelancers don’t require benefits, or require the paper to maintain a newsroom where human beings might want to work for more than a year or two, or require publishers and editors that know the business and that are more concerned with treating their people right than with pleasing some fuck in a Bentley. Even competent and engaged freelancers, like DeWolf is on this very topic, are no substitute for an actual commitment of resources and people to the day in, day out grind of beat reporting.
Now we here at Assertions are as dedicated to freelancers getting money as we are to the third person. That, in fact, is our next tattoo: a back piece with FREELANCERS GET MONEY in blackletter script. And what better freelancers to hire than aficionados with love for that which they cover? But when those sorts of serious discussions of the infrastructure that makes your life work are increasingly rare, don’t wonder why: it’s because it’s as hard to cover the STM on the cheap out of CanWest’s Winnipeg headquarters as it is easy to score cheap points hiring your right-wing pals to snipe at Quebec from a closer and more comfortable perch.
Monday’s Media Morsels (via Midnight Poutine)