Via Jeff Jarvis, I see that Yahoo! has hired war correspondent Kevin Sites to report from the front lines at hotzone.yahoo.com. This is, I think the first time the company has hired a reporter of its own. This seems to me to be a rather dramatic shift. Wired magazine ran a story last month that talked about how Yahoo! is building a next-generation entertainment company. Quote:
These days, the company has two distinct faces. In Silicon Valley, a band of happy hackers, the descendants of Yang and Filo, work to out-engineer the guys up the street at Google. In Santa Monica, 350 miles south, the Yahoo! Media Group has slapped down $100 million for a 10-year lease on the 230,000-square-foot Yahoo! Center, formerly MGM’s home. The office park covers an entire city block, squatting amid the offices of HBO, MTV, Lion’s Gate, and Universal. The company won’t comment on its mission in LA, but in an internal email making rounds on the Web, Yahoo! COO Dan Rosensweig says, “The growing consumer demand for compelling content on the Internet and the proliferation of broadband is an exciting opportunity. We need to enhance our presence in the entertainment capital of the world.”
Clearly hiring Sites is a big part of this strategy. Yahoo! wants original content, not just aggregations of AP and Reuters headlines. But here’s my question: when will bloggers make a similar move? Bloggers love to carp about the incompetence of the “mainstream media” (MSM, for short), and yet, they are beholden to it, in a relationship that E.J. Dionne once referred to as “parasitic.” Dionne wasn’t being dismissive, just stating the obvious: no blogger has a Washington, D.C. or Baghdad news bureau, and therefore they rely on the hated MSM for actual information.
So here’s my idea: why not get several dozen like-minded bloggers to pool revenue and hire a few reporters, like Yahoo! did with Sites. How much would it cost? Clearly a Baghdad bureau would be expensive, but a D.C. reporter might be affordable. $150K/year? $500K? I bet you could come up with that if you pooled the ad revenue from the top 50 liberal (or conservative) blogs.
Then the bloggers would have created a truly independent news organ, one that they could exercise total control over. Readers could suggest stories, or post questions that they want to ask Scott McClellan, for example.