So for the last few years, all we keep hearing about from professional journalists is how there is less and less reporting going on, and how we'll all miss "real" reporting once it's gone. They complain that without new business models journalism itself is doomed. Leave aside how ridiculous all of that is (and, yes, it's totally ridiculous), when a new project comes along that will enable more reporting
in the San Francisco Bay Area, via a partnership between radio station KQED and journalism students at Berkeley, along come the professional reporters complaining about how this is the death of journalism
and must be stopped. That's the view of the East Bay Express's Robert Gammon. Why? Well, because it involves students instead of pro journalists, and thus is unfair competition:
The venture also threatens traditional news media in the Bay Area, because it will rely on 120 journalism students at Cal who will work for free. The massive free-labor workforce will give the new venture a huge advantage over established Bay Area media organizations that depend on paid, veteran journalists to gather and put together news stories.
I read that and all I can think is, Mr. Gammon, did you really just mean to suggest that your years of experience and professional connections are so worthless that a group of students will automatically beat you in the marketplace? Because that's what he said. After we keep being told how pro journalists are so important, and all their experience, knowledge and reporting chops differentiates them from the unwashed masses, here is a guy who is flat-out admitting that he has no advantage over some pure amateurs.
Let's hope UC Berkeley and KQED seriously rethink this plan before it goes live early next year. The idea of a non-profit news organization has merit, but using what amounts to slave labor to make it happen is bad for journalism.
So, let me see if I get this straight. Things have been really bad because there were fewer reporters working on the news, and we'll all miss them when they're gone... but as soon as anyone new enters the market, it will be bad for journalism? And even if the journalism is done by students who have no experience, the amazing pros simply won't be able to compete? Yeah, that's believable.