Monday, July 13, 2015

Smell the Irony

This just in from the Washington Post:

Journalists don't want the results of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to be posted on-line. They want the info, but they want it for themselves only, so they can control the public release of the the information that they received under the FOIA.

Anybody see the irony?

The journalists say that it will "suppress" requests. Well, no... not really. Not if you're interested in releasing the information. But if you want exclusive access to the information, it could be a problem.

The journalists say as much. Their problem is that they lose exclusivity over investigations that are built on multiple FOIA requests. They don't lose the ability to perform the investigations, nor do they lose the ability to report on them. But, as the information is now public, they lose the ability to withhold it themselves until they feel like publishing.

This is a problem for them because of the economics of journalism. Exclusives and scoops bring prestige and royalties for re-prints and moneymoneymoney. These are the same journalists who have neither an understanding of, nor a sympathy for, the economics of any other profession, bar none.

And frankly, I no longer have sympathy for the economics of their profession. The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to increase transparency. This is overwhelmingly information that should have been accessible in the first place. The one thing I have a problem with is that filing a request incurs a cost. It would be better if it didn't. But transparency is better than opacity; access is better than exclusion; and I am perfectly fine with taking this as an incremental improvement over the current state of affairs, leaving the price issue for a later date.

Frankly, the dinosaurs of the Press can learn to deal with their new environment, or they can move to Seattle and ask if you want fries with that. I hear they can make $15 an hour.

1 comment:

  1. There was a withdrawn comment to this post. It was too good to leave alone, so I've responded to it in my next post. Follow the link...