Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Funday: Sad News - But Hope Springs Eternal

It was both a surprise and another gut check for us this week as the online publication The Washington Independent was forced to close its doors, another casualty of both the recession and the pervasive attitude that everything online should be cost-free for the user.

As at least one of our staffers has said elsewhere, this wasn't a left versus right issue. TWI, while slightly left-leaning, was a solid publication, winning awards, and helping lift quality journalists like Dave Weigel to the next level.

We hate to see yet another great media product of any kind go away, either online or offline. As so many have been lamenting of late, quality sources for news and information are far too hard to find. We were proud to link to The Washington Independent many times over the last two years, and are saddened to see them go.

So why are we telling you about this on Friday, when we're supposed to be having fun?

Whether it's writers, cartoonists, photographers, editors, web-personnel, or others in the media world, all of us - and many of our readers - have been saying for MANY years that the internet needs to find a better way for those of us who work in cyberspace to get paid for our work.

The sad fact pointed out by our webmaster Shawn, is that, in the beginnings of the internet, some of the original designers wanted to make EVERY link bidirectional - meaning every link connected the original source to the current page that link was on. That bidirectional system also was designed to allow micropayments - which would allow every writer, cartoonist and other content creator to get thousands or millions of tiny payments.

The way the internet works these days doesn't allow for this.

Enter the folks at Google, specifically Google News, with one of their newest inventions, Publishing Metatags.

While the experiment is still in the initial stages, its implementation is relatively simple. Because it's a product of Google, the idea of content creation being able to be tracked  - and maybe earning money for its creators - seems to be one that's finally being taken a bit more seriously. Even if Google's current approach doesn't work, their entrance into this field seems to be spurring a growing number of serious discussions of how micropayments could make online content creation fiscally viable.

We hate that more of our fellow media professionals are looking for work once again.

But there is hope - growing and serious hope - that those of us who create great words, pictures, and other media for you, may soon be able to actually get paid fairly, allowing us to continue to do what we do well, whether online or in print.

In that there is some serious hope, and that's a cause for celebration for all of us.

Enjoy your weekend.

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