Danny Finkelstein: not a journalist

Rory Cellan-Jones has a good article on the BBC site about Murdoch’s paywall. Well, I say “good”; being on the BBC site and hence subject to Strict Impartiality Etc, it’s far too neutral about the paywall’s prospects of success (which are zero). But it’s informative.

Most informative of all is the final proof that Times associate editor Danny Finkelstein is not, in any meaningful sense, a journalist:

I asked Danny Finkelstein whether it bothered him that from now on none of his journalism would “go viral”, with the risk that he’d be left invisible on the sidelines as the online debate raged through news sites without paywalls. “No,” he insisted,”I want my employer to be paid for my intellectual property.”

In my current role as a freelance market analyst, I want my client to be paid for my intellectual property, because I write reports that are only of interest to the people who pay for them. Those reports can fairly be categorised as intellectual property, and my relationship with my client can fairly be categorised as one of mutual commercial advantage.

As a result, I tailor the reports I write to meet the client’s brief as closely as possible (having used my experience in the relevant sector to ensure that we can agree a brief that helps their commercial objectives). When I find information that doesn’t help achieve this, I don’t try to include it in the output I pass onto my client, even if it’s interesting – why would I? It doesn’t help the main goal, of ensuring my employer is paid for my intellectual property.

This, pretty obviously, is not journalism. It’s the opposite – I’m finding things out selectively, based on a commercial brief, and the things that I do find out will be kept secret and used by people who’re willing to pay for them.

My blogging (at least, the data/analytical stuff I do on LC, and the transport stuff that goes up here) is journalism – I find out new things, whether previously unknown or hidden in plain sight, and then try and disseminate them as widely as possible.

If, when faced with the choice of “shout as loudly as possible so that as many people as possible can hear what you’ve found or what you have to say” or “back the boss in his plans to make more cash by stopping people from hearing what you have to say”, you pick the latter, then whatever you may be, you’re certainly not a journalist.

2 thoughts on “Danny Finkelstein: not a journalist”

  1. On the other hand I don't want Danny Finkelstein's output disseminated any more widely than within the Times' office, so let's not goad him too much.

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