Andrew Keen’s Dumb Punditry

5 Jan

The Vancouver Sun published a set of predictions this year and they included the words of Andrew Keen, notorious skeptic of the amateur.  When he’s not drumming up controversy to peddle his book about the subject he can be found spouting off more abbreviated nonsense like this:

The Internet’s days of being dominated by the anonymous, the amateur and the agitating are numbered, according to Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur.

“I’m hopeful we’re coming to our senses,” he says.

The Internet was projected to be a $15-billion economy, he says, but that turned into a “false promise” as it essentially became a network of amateur bloggers posting whatever they wanted.

No one is willing to pay for online content, he says, so the only way to make money is through advertising. Businesses, however, don’t want to associate themselves with the kind of nasty, objectionable or unreliable content that is often the result of a wide-open field of unknown users, he says.

I have attempted to argue with Mr. Keen in the past but, like a superbug of flawed reasoning, he is impervious to logic.  His recent gibberish ignores the fact that it is not amateur content that got clobbered in 2008 as much as it was professional content.  Consider the following datapoints compiled by Alan Mutter:

In the worst year in history for publishers, newspaper shares dropped an average of 83.3% in 2008, wiping out $64.5 billion in market value in just 12 months.

Although things were tough for all sorts of businesses in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s, the decline among the newspaper shares last year was more than twice as deep as the 38.5% drop suffered by the Standard and Poor’s average of 500 stocks.

The debacle was widespread and thoroughgoing, as detailed below. Here are some highlights from the data:

:: The shares of eight of the 14 publishers tracked in the survey fell by 90% or more. The best-performing companies were the Washington Post Co., New York Times Co., and News Corp., but WaPo, the least battered issue of all, still fell 51.5%.

If you want more evidence of the industry’s crash please read more of Mutter’s piece.  It is sobering.  I hope 2009 will be the year that Keen’s worldview is acknowledged.   With ‘professionals’ like him the world needs amateurs more than ever.

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