Information Brokerage

I am an information broker. So are you. I’ve chosen to write about certain things. You’ve chosen to read about them (and will then turn around, as it were, and choose/not choose to further disseminate that information to others).

Brokers used to be paid well (at least for brokering certain things) but now that everyone is an information broker, it has made things remarkably different for those whose job description is journalist. Robert Picard puts his finger on the core issue:

Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days.

(His entire article is good, but that’s the distilled version.)

The relatively free exchange of information/ideas/opinions/events/everything that can be written/recorded and placed on the web by just about anyone has seen the traditional journalist coming in to competition with, well, everybody. This is not to say that journalists, because they have been taught a craft and have honed a skill set are not going to be better at what they do than others who lack that background. It is however necessary to realize that many people do not consider one’s background–just the data which is being provided. That is, consumers of information are increasingly incurious about who exactly is providing it, particularly if that information corresponds with their own worldview.

I am not a journalist in the traditional sense that I am paid to journal particular events/happenings. Most would claim that much of my reporting is derivative of others who have done the proper research, interviews, etc. They would be right, and I make it a point to credit those who have done the work. The value I bring is not necessarily the news itself but the perspective on it and, at times, the simple selection of a piece of news which some of my readers might not otherwise come across from their usual news sources, or perhaps the juxtaposition of information that would otherwise not be connected. And, of course, my invaluable opinion (but, I speak as a fool).

Speaking of opinions, my opinion regarding current journalism from old-school sources is that there is very little hard-core news reporting and much opinion. What does all of this mean for old-school journalists? Maybe it is time to head back to the basics: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How and leave the opinion/analysis to those who are (broadly speaking) not working on a deadline or expecting to feed our lifestyle/family from the proceeds of our labors.