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.