Palin & Crowdsourcing
The media folks, in many ways, created the media juggernaut that is Sarah Palin. They continue to sustain her in an ironic way: the more they attack her, the more she benefits.
Obviously, I have written about her. However, I have decided to adopt a strict Palin Policy. My policy is that unless she actually decides to run for president or does something else of true significance, this will be my last Palin blog. In a way, the blog is more about the media than about her.
The Washington Post and New York Times are in a fine frenzy over the release of 24,000 Palin emails from her time as governor of Alaska. While a sensible person would probably think that pretty much all that needs to be known about her time as governor is already known, the Post and Times are eager to sift through the digital haystack in search of some sparkling needle that presumably can be used to jab Palin.
If some dire doubts remained about that time or if a great deal was at stake, then sifting those emails might be worth the effort. I do, of course, admit, that some true nuggets of information might be found that would make the game worth the electricity. However, it seems like a lot of effort with only a small chance of a worthwhile payoff of any sort.
Because there are so many emails and the traditional media companies are not doing as well financially, the Post and Times are crowdsourcing the work. The idea is that people will, for free, grind through the emails looking for choice bits to provide to the Post, Times and whoever else is involved in this little adventure.
If they can get people to do their work for free, then that would be rather good for them. No doubt this would also strengthen the trend of news agencies making use of the public as unpaid staff members. On the plus side, this does increase the amount of information coming in to the news agency and it allows the public to be actively involved in the news process. On the minus side, the professionals really should be doing their jobs. After all, they are supposed to be the professionals. There is also the concern that relying on amateurs can lower the quality of the news (which is already rather low). Finally, getting people to do this sort of work unpaid seems rather exploitative-especially when done by (allegedly) liberal organizations.
As a final point, it seems just a bit creepy to be going through someone’s emails like that. As noted above, if there were good reasons to think that the emails contained information about illegal or unethical activities that would be the business of the people, then that would be one thing. However, this seems to be a mix between a hopeful witch hunt and creepy voyeurism. Naturally, if something of true importance does turn up, I will write a post admitting that I was wrong.
Yes, I do suppose that I am actually defending Sarah Palin.