11 February 2010

Time to Copyright Investigative Journalism

When our founding fathers wanted to encourage more innovation to make a better world, they gave us patents. Patents reward an inventor with a monopoly for a time, making the payoff for sacrifice and applied creativity greater. The result is more of a good thing.

Investigative reporting is also a good thing. With facts and a better understanding of what's going on, a community can make better choices. The crooks in high places are more careful. Yet even as we get more media coverage, we seem to get less investigative reporting. Maybe its time for something like a patent or copyright for news uncovered.

Imagine that you learn a story behind how the number of deaths attributed to medical malpractice are generated. Right now, you do the work to generate this story and the instant you publish it, it becomes news. Talk shows, columnists, and other reporters can use your startling insight to opine and make their point about why malpractice insurance or litigation should be changed. You do all the work and they get the buzz.

But what if every time they cited your study, you'd get a little kickback, like royalty paid for use of a patent? Think about how much money could be made by infusing the news with ... well, with news. Right now, all the money is in generating opinions and the republic is no better for it. What if it were an investigative reporter who made the big bucks for unveiling a link between DEA officials and Mexican drug cartels, or showing how earmarks have made political donors rich? Think how much more energy would go into revealing what is really going on if that were the case.

A community simply hasn't got a chance to be well governed without a good media. Maybe it is time to less passively wish for good reporting and put in place some laws that actually reward it. It worked with invention.


Anonymous said...

I like this idea!

The big obstacle, I think, is that I'm not sure politicians want a more vigorous, investigative press.

Lifehiker said...

I've been looking for a way to utilize my sleuthing and writing skills for profit! Attribution rights on the web sounds good to me.