Journalist Body Recommends Apartheid For Bloggers, Tax Breaks for Newspapers

A report to be released by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recommends a digital apartheid scheme that defines journalists ahead of bloggers, and tax breaks for newspapers.

The proposal of a “kitemark,” in the form of a visual or digital watermark, would be used to “identify and differentiate professional journalism amidst the noise of the web,” the report says.

“Paired with a kitemark, an indicator of digital transparency could convey to the audience that the content offered on a website had been subjected to a rigorous series of checks, and further, had been created by a professional journalist employed to write in a specific field of coverage – as opposed to a blogger, writing for free and outside any formal editorial process or code of conduct.

The emphasis is mine, but it’s the flaw of the proposal: the presumption that bloggers all write for free, and are all outside an editorial process: a digital apartheid that favors old media over new media.

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According to the Press Gazette, the report also suggests a review of newspaper tax, in particular on newspaper websites:

“The purpose would be to minimize the current disparity between the costs and revenue-generating potential of news websites.” In other words: instead of cutting costs, newspapers should be given tax breaks to subsidize their newsrooms because web ads aren’t paying them enough to continue to support their often bloated, archaic business structures.

The proposal of a kitemark wouldn’t change the online dynamics of news, but it would serve one purpose: to further divide old journalism and new media. This is a hark back to journalist supremacy, an elitist view that shares much in common with the practices of minority white populations in Africa in the 20th century; this idea that somehow based on race, or in this case employment, you are more privileged than someone else, irrespective of the quality of the content and the work produced. There will always be a market for news, but automatically labeling some content as being superior to other content, not based on the content itself but by who wrote it is cultural apartheid, and only goes to show how out of touch, and lost the last vestiges of old media really are.