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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Old Media vs. “Content Parasites”

November 29, 2011

STATE OF THE MEDIA: Regardless of how people feel about the redesigned Web site of the Providence Journal, it’s one of many battlegrounds in the fight for the future of journalism. Papers like the ProJo and Boston Globe are restricting more of their online content to paying customers as a late response to the rush to put information online, gratis, in the mid to late 1990s. So does information want to be free, as some proclaim, or is that a recipe for eroding public knowledge of government and other important subjects?

People concerned with that question should give a read to this review of Free Ride, Robert Levine‘s book about the future of media . . . . Excerpt from reviewer Jeffrey Rosen: “By delivering content they don’t pay for, or selling content far below the price it cost to create, Levine says, information and entertainment distributors like YouTube and The Huffington Post become ‘parasites’ on the media companies that invest substantially in journalists, musicians and actors; the distributors drive down prices in a way that sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture. The result is a ‘digital version of Wal-Mart capitalism,’ in which free-riding distributors reap all the economic benefits of the Internet by cutting prices, and culture suppliers are forced to cut costs in response. This dynamic, Levine argues, destroys the economic incentive to create the kinds of movies, television, music and journalism consumers demand, and for which they are, in fact, quite willing to pay.”

WHITE HOUSE 2012: Hermain Cain, reports ABC, is reassessing his campaign amid the latest allegation of infidelity. 

WHITE CHRISTMAS: As Ted Nesi reports, the tempest over Governor Chafee’s description of a “holiday tree” in the Statehouse rotunda is much ado about nothing, since previous governors have used the same phrasing.

MEDIA: Kristen Welker, singled out for praise in my 2005 Phoenix story on the perennial struggles of Channel 6, is doing well as a correspondent for NBC News.

ODD COUPLE: Chafee and Barney Frank might seem like polar extremes in a lot of ways, including temperament. But in a world of plastic politicians, they’re authentic individuals. Joan Vennochi says Frank’s bluntness was harsh, but also refreshing.

ODD TRIO: Ezra Klein finds that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and President Obama have quite a bit in common.

RI MEDIA TWEETER OF THE DAY: We were sorry to see Bob Plain lose his gig at WPRO, but he’s still actively tweeting about #Occupy, interesting days in history and more. Check him  out.

ON THE MOVE: Former WPRI-TV anchor Erin Kennedy has landed in Cleveland.

HEAD SPIN: For a little thought-provoking cognitive dissonance, check out companion critiques of capitalism in last week’s New Yorker by the spiritual fathers of #OccupyWallSt and Silicon Valley super-investor Peter Thiel.

GAME SIX: A countdown on the MLB Network ranked the storied Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and Reds as the greatest game in baseball history. One of the details to emerge was a description by Bernie Carbo, who set up Carlton Fisk’s walkoff HR for the ages, with a game-tying 9th 8th inning home run, came to the ballpark under the influence in those days.  

MOST SEARCHED: Poynter has a rundown on the most searched stories of 2011, and if you thought No. 1 was “Pensions,” you’d be wrong: 

  1. Casey Anthony Trial
  2. Osama bin Laden Death
  3. Hurricane Irene
  4. Japan Earthquake/Tsunami
  5. Amy Winehouse Death
  6. Joplin Tornado
  7. Michael Jackson trial/Conrad Murray
  8. 9/11 10 Year Anniversary
  9. Republican Candidates – Herman Cain, Rick Perry
  10. Haiti anniversary
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