Friday, July 27, 2012

Remember that ongoing conversation about the decline of journalism?

From Marketplace:

Vigeland: OK, excellent. Give us a rundown of some of the subjects that you have been quoted as an expert on. 
Holiday: Turntables, insomnia, barefoot running and -- my favorite, of course, is boat winterization. 
Vigeland: And do you own a boat? 
Holiday: I don't own a boat. I don't own a turntable either. And I don't suffer from insomnia. 
Vigeland: All right. So what was your ultimate goal here? Why bother with this kind of thing? Were you bored, you needed something to do? 
Holiday: No, absolutely not. So I discovered about a year ago, there's this service that's called Basically, the reporter needs a subject for a trend piece; I'm promoting something, I say, 'I'll be your trend subject,' and we trade. The reporter doesn't really have to do their job, and the source gets free publicity. So what I wanted to prove was that this backroom arrangement left the front door wide open to all sorts of media manipulation. And so, in about six months, I was able to deceive almost every major media outlet -- not a single one fact-checked, not a single one asked, 'Hey, why are you giving us this information? What's in it for you?' Look, sources have always been self-interested -- we've known this -- but we've almost embraced that self-interest and not asked: 'What are the consequences of doing so?'

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