Sunday, November 26, 2006

Law Librarians and Reporters--The Movie

No, it's not a replay of "The Front Page" or "His Girl Friday."

Earlier this month, blog entries noted the rising price of legal materials. At the same time, newspapers were being forced to lay off newsroom staff because their profits were insufficiently high. Some of these newspapers had profit rates of twenty percent. Newsrooms were aleady lean after years of cutbacks; a study I read last year found that most newspapers recycled the same wire copy. Not a surprise to anyone who reads small town newspapers that shut down capital bureaus years ago. Newspapers used to rely on stringers paid on spec; now newspapers rely on blogs written by students living on loans.

Our publishers are divisions of these media companies. Our price woes may flow from the same roots as the newspaper problems. How many new books are brought out by publishers? What is the cost of updating content? With publishers shifting to on-line publishing, have production costs gone down? If a book is written by an author, hasn't the author spent a lot of time and money to reach the level of expertise required to write an authoritative work? What does the publisher contribute to that personal investment?

It just seems to me that this information economy requires a lot of time and investment by creators who are expected to live like simple lifers. I don't think our budget woes are ocurring in a vacuum. Any one have anything to contribute on this issue?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about if law schools/law libraries worked with AALL and AALS to create an open access legal research database including an open source - community-created citation system (a la Shepards or KeyCite).

From that could flow open access course materials and casebooks and public legal information.