John ‘J’ Trinckes
July 25, 2009

[efoods]It appears that everyone is feeling the effects of the economy even news publishers. With the decrease of advertising dollars, the news industry needs to find ways to survive. The way in which these publishers feel they need to survive is by blaming the Internet for their troubles. A total of 166 European publishers as members of the European Publishers Council (EPC) have recently signed the “Hamburg Declaration to Protect Intellectual Property Rights” in an attempt to enforce legislation that would somehow require readers to ‘pay’ for their news.

The Hamburg Declaration begins by saying: “The Internet offers immense opportunities to professional journalism – but only if the basis for profitability remains secure throughout the digital channels of distribution. This is currently not the case.” My interpretation of this is that to be a professional journalist you have to be a profit maker. Although I guess this would make sense, literarily, the declaration goes on to say that using works of others [authors, publishers, and broadcasters] without paying for it “threatens the production of high-quality content and the existence of independent journalism.” I don’t know about you, but I love reading the articles from and believe they are of very ‘high-quality content’ and from multiple ‘independent’ journalists. There is no profit motive for these writers; they love to write and to get information out in the public domain. Isn’t this what ‘true’ journalism is all about? Get the truth out?

The declaration continues with “universal access to websites does not necessarily mean access at no cost. We disagree with those who maintain that freedom of information is only established when everything is available at no cost.” I don’t know about you, but I do pay a substantial monthly fee to have access to the Internet and as such, I expect to visit any website I want. Are there sites out there that charge a membership fee to join? Absolutely, but I usually don’t bother since there is another site out there that may offer the same information that I’m looking for, but for ‘free’ or with minimal advertising. And as far as freedom of information is concerned, more times than not, the information that comes to us free of charge are often times better than the information that we may pay for. Besides, those individuals that have the money can influence what is said or how something is presented to other individuals. How many times or examples can I site on how our news media cover (or doesn’t cover) a certain story because of the advertising dollars that come in to the news station. We couldn’t possibly want to run a story that is negative against one of our sponsors just to get the ‘facts’ out about that particular story.

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