Pica hudsonia

Our local online alternative news site has noticed that we put up a metered paywall on the Chronicle website.

In a June 6 posting, Blake Maxwell writes, “Perhaps this will prove a fortuitous decision for the community’s long-running newspaper, but we’re certain the new circumstances will benefit The Bozeman Magpie.”

He thinks our Web traffic will flow to his site, abandoning us stodgy traditional media types.

Maxwell goes on to highlight the Magpie Reader, the site’s aggregator. He calls it a “home-state version of the Associated Press… but the array of voices is less limited and less spoon-fed.”

For one, I have spoken with the AP bureau in Helena. The Chronicle and every other paper in the state is a member. What is not “home-state” about that?

Moving on. I’m not sure how the Associated Press’s number of voices is limited… I suppose you could say it’s limited to members of the AP. I suppose you could also say that it’s limited to journalists working for AP-member news organizations.

I guess a news wire full of stories by just professional journalists could be described as having a “limited” array of voices.

Spoon-fed? I think he means the journalism that results from people actually going out and talking to sources for a story, rather than just writing up summaries of things found on the Internet or that have appeared in other news stories published online.

Are those sources — government officials, cops, witnesses, lawyers, etc. — spoon-feeding reporters information. Maybe? Yes? What the heck does “spoon-fed” even mean? Perhaps he’ll clarify.

Let us talk about the Magpie Reader for a minute. There is no love lost between news organizations and aggragators. Personally, I have no problem with aggregators like the Reader. It links people back to our site, which is good for us.

I do take issue with someone who runs what he claims is a viable alternative to traditional media saying that summaries based on actual reporting are enough to inform the public. Maxwell might argue that, no, that’s not enough to inform the public. He might argue that’s why the Reader links back to original sources.

If his site isn’t enough on its own, then why the heck is Maxwell advertising it as “the fastest way for Montanans to get up to speed”? Perhaps a better tagline would be “the fastest way for Montanans to get links to the news they need to get up to speed” or “the fastest way for Montanans to read the lead paragraphs of already-published news stories.” But then again, I’m a journalist and not a marketer.

Finally, I’ll pick on Maxwell for this line:

More people around the state should enjoy free access to wide variety (sic) of news sources, don’t ya think?

I’ll let you form your own opinions about whether news should be free. I know many people out there don’t like the metering system we’ve installed on the Chronicle site, so maybe a majority of people out there agree with Maxwell.

In theory, I agree. I think a lot of other things should be free too: iPads, prime rib, health care, polo shirts, Corvettes, carpentry, houses, books and Adobe software, to name a few. Don’t ya think?

I wish the Magpie luck, but I wish you something far greater – an informed Montana. If you like the idea, here’s how you can help:

  • Read the Magpie for a couple weeks and then tell me what’s happening in Bozeman.