Activist geeks and "information should be free" loonies are incorrigible, and they're everywhere. They are laughing out loud at the problems confronting the media - a media too stupid, in the early days of the internet, to see the apocalypse coming. They think that the mainstream media, like all big business, is corrupt and deserves to become extinct. Which is odd, because most of the links that appear in social media point to stories written by journalists who work for the mainstream media. It seems that, like the "crap" produced by large entertainment companies, these products are what people want to consume. It's just that they don't want to pay for them.
For creatives, the internet is highly problematic. On one hand it can help to build a profile. On the other hand, the rise of the internet has meant that it is becoming harder and harder to earn a living from writing. Rates for stories are coming down as mainstream outlets who used to pay well stop commissioning, and as new outlets set their fees ridiculously low; how about $100 for a story that takes two days to write? If you can live on the rates freelance journalists can expect to earn today then you are doing wonderfully well.
The young, hacktivist legionaires who often hide behind pseudonyms online can take courage from the fact that the mainstream media IS indeed in poor financial straits. But that's actually not a good thing. Outlets like Huffington Post, which seems to have done really well in the new world online, actually pays zero for the stories it publishes. Writers are getting squeezed by media outlets, on the one hand, and by their readers, on the other. There's no place to go. Many just drop out. Instead of looking for ways to steal information, hactivists might more profitably try to find ways that can cause writers to be paid, and also ensure that readers pay - a little, at least - for the stories they so avidly consume every day of the year.
The appetite for stories is unabated, but we need a new way to allow outlets to recoup a part of the cost each time a story is read. An activist geek who could come up with a solution like this would be really doing the world a favour. Aaron Swartz had a heart of gold, of course, there's no doubt, but his ideas were formed by his chosen discipline. If he had been a writer, he would have looked elsewhere for a way to stick it to the man. Empower the writer, not the corporation. There's a story.