20th-Century Journalists, Meet 21st-Century Intelligence

Traditional print journalism, it’s hard not to notice, seems to be on its deathbed… at least if you read the opinions of the many and varied pundits of the wired (or should that be wireless?) Web 2.0 world. The once-mighty newspapers are in rapid decline, and journalism doesn’t have quite the cachet – or job security – it used to.

Amid all the hooting and hollering about how much more relevant and timely the Web is, and scattered in among all the propaganda about “citizen journalists” and so forth lies a concern that is largely going unheeded by the young and technologically-hip: What are all the unemployed old-school journalists supposed to do, now?

I know it’s easy to be snarky, and suppose that most journalists are basically unskilled hacks who like to write, but discovered there’s no money in poetry. (I kid, I kid… a little.) Truth be told, most journalists are fairly skilled… at working to deadlines, following precise instructions, doing research, ferreting out facts, and producing carefully-formatted written summaries of their work. With the death of the traditional print media market, this leaves your typical journalist qualified to do what, exactly? Work the drive-thru at McDonalds?

How about a better idea: Hire ’em as low-level intelligence collectors and analysts.

The intelligence community generates – I’m going to take a wild-ass guess here – several thousand intelligence requirements every day which can be filled through, basically, open-source intelligence collection. Most of this isn’t classified, and requires minimal skill to fulfill. Yet, I’d guess that a majority of these requirements are never met, or aren’t met in a timely fashion, because they’re too time-consuming for the available personnel to handle.

Solution? Put ex-journalists on the problem. Take a bunch of people with better-than-average communication skills, familiarity and experience doing research through Google, Lexis-Nexis, public records, et cetera, and no otherwise marketable skills, and put them to good use. Even if you want to be picky, there have got to be a couple thousand unemployed journalists out there who speak at least one foreign language and are desperate for work; pay ’em less than they were making writing for the newspapers, but more than they would make flipping burgers, and put them to work on the IC’s never-ending supply of OSINT requirements. (An FBI Special Agent starts out at what works out to be, roughly, $23 USD/hour; FBI analysts start around $15 USD/hour – GS7 – which is somewhat surprisingly a rough average pay rate four journalists these days. I’d say, start the recycled journos out at $10-11/hour – GS4 rates – or pay piecemeal, per task, as contract work.)

I’m sure it’ll never happen, but a person can dream, can’t they?

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on July 9th, 2009| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 7/9/2009 at 3:33 pm Web 2.0 Said:

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