When should business trump journalism?

Perhaps it’s unfair to prey on the defenceless student media, but there’s an issue brewing behind the scenes that’s just so interesting on a larger scale.

The Link and The Concordian, the two student-run newspapers at Concordia University, are mortal enemies and they are fiercely competitive (after a few years of one paper being clearly superior to the other). They compete over design, contributors, editors, money and anything else they can think of.

I bring it up because it makes me wonder what rules should exist in general for journalists when it comes to their competition. Some media flat-out refuse to refer to direct competitors by name, unless it’s to report bad news about them. Many have rules restricting staff (and in some cases even freelancers) from contributing to competing media. And, of course, there’s the whole problem of when media outlets report on themselves.

Blogs, for the most part, take a completely different position. They welcome competition, link to their posts, hang out together and exchange tips. The idea there is that becoming part of a community helps everyone in it.

Who’s right? Is the cooperation among blogs simply because they’re such small enterprises and they’re trying to get noticed? When big blogs become large, mainstream, corporate-owned companies instead of some guys in a basement, will they too try to actively shut out their competition?

At what point do we have to stop being journalists and start being businesspeople?

(Note: This post was edited at the request of The Link, who wish to keep their dirty laundry in their own hamper. The main point still stands.) 

6 thoughts on “When should business trump journalism?

  1. heri

    blogs, even the biggest ones like techcrunch, link to the most relevant content, even if it’s a competitor’s. the blogger’s job is then to focus on getting first the information or writing the best analysis

    which is in a way, what newspapers should do.

    (although there are some notorious cases of rivalry in blogs, like gizmodo vs engadget, they never link to each other, but they both were heavily criticized for it)

  2. Fagstein Post author

    (submitted via email)

    why you need an editor, #456 in a series

    your alma mater is the last school you graduated from
    not your former newspaper

  3. princess iveylocks

    why people should think before they snark, rule #1

    “alma mater” – Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin, fostering mother
    Date: 1651
    1 : a school, college, or university which one has attended or from which one has graduated
    2 : the song or hymn of a school, college, or university

    Therefore, while Princess Iveylocks will one day (D.V.) matriculate from Western, in her heart the stalwart dykes will forever be her bounteous mother of academe (and the opening words of a rather dated song she had to perform at her convocation). It’s not just the last school from which one has graduated, in other words.

    Was Steve’s figurative usage of the term wrong? It wasn’t particularly apt; I agree with you there. But let’s uncover the definitive answer, rather than relying on our own assumptions to slam Fagstein… my definition is taken from Merriam-Webster, for example. Cheers!

  4. Jack Ruttan

    I’d like you to mock the rivarly between the free “alternative” weeklies, please!

    (Damn, the bastards have colour! They have more sex ads than us! How do we cooperate to keep the same face off the cover of two different papers?”

  5. Fagstein Post author

    Honestly, I’ve never understood how Montreal can’t support two English dailies but it can support two indistinguishable English alternative weeklies. Both have little to no news, sex columns hidden in the classifieds, and are owned by big corporations that kind of kill the whole “alternative” cred.


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