(1 UPDATE)OpenFile.CA, a journalism crowdsourcing experiment, was a preposterous idea from the outset, a Pets.com of journalism, and deserved to fail. It did so owing freelancers tens of thousands of dollars.

J-Source, as I have documented at length, doesn’t understand its own mission and is hamstrung by an appalling technical infrastructure and an unwillingness to hire anyone but compliant young women who belatedly publish leads real journalists publish on Twitter. Though it takes care not to bite the hands that feed it (for example, by decorously refusing to call Peggy Wente the serial plagiarist she is), J-Source has had its funding eliminated. (Also deserved.) Barring a miracle, it will cease to exist this year.

Both these failed “journalistic” make-work projects should close. I heartily cheer their demise. And, boy, do I have documentation on their failings.

I’ll be updating this posting during the week and later, but let’s start with something nobody else has done: I analyzed the entire OpenFile suggestion queue before the Web site not at all suspiciously shut down. Out of nearly 100 submitted “files,” only two remotely resembled journalistic questions:

  1. Why is Toronto Animal Services asking me to handle a dead raccoon?

  2. With downspouts disconnected, where does all the water go?

The rest of the submissions were variously tendentious, something the Fixer at the Star should cover, readily Googlable, or straightforward cases of white whine, among other categories.

See for yourself.

Coming up

  • J-Source’s editrix, true to Millennial form, goes crying to Mommy, then decamps for a “journalism” startup.

  • J-Source’s academic sponsor leaves the job, and the head of the replacement committee won’t answer questions.

Belinda Alzner goes crying to mommy

(UPDATE 1 · 2013.06.01)As I have described already, J-Source commits the typical liberal-journalist sin of hiring nothing but compliant young liberal female greenhorns who don’t know shit, won’t rock the boat, and will work for peanuts. Former J-Source editrix Belinda Alzner fit the bill perfectly. She did not reply to my fact-checking E-mail in which I asked her age, for the CV she used to get the editor’s job, and for evidence she was not compliant and liberal.

But, as it turns out, she did exactly what you’d expect a female of her generation to do: She ran crying to mommy, here personified by Janice Neil of Ryerson. I eventually found Neil’s E-mail in a spam folder.

As Editor-in-Chief of J-Source.ca, it’s my responsibility to respond to readers who have raised a wide range of complaints.

Regarding your request for personal information about our Associate Editor, I don’t consider it relevant.

I have no interest in engaging with you about the other issues you raised. It’s clear that J-Source does not meet your needs as a reader.

(Janice, when’s your tenure up?)

Alzner demonstrably sat around waiting for approved journalism sources to mention something on Twitter before belatedly and half-arsedly covering the same ground. Almost immediately after J-Source announced it had lost its funding (Alzner herself wrote about it), she went to work for an online operation that, like Twitter, also isn’t journalism: ScribbleLive. When that site runs out of money and closes up shop, all the “journalism” you entrusted to it – rather than learning basic HTML and publishing it on a site you control – will be deleted forever.

How’s her replacement, Tamara Baluja, doing? Better. But she’s still working for a doomed operation. While she had enough guts to do something that shouldn’t require guts at all – she published the names of everyone who took the Globe buyout – Baluja still couldn’t alphabetize it by surname or mark it up as an unordered list. All she knew how to so was “embed” this plain-text list in another service that will die and delete everything stored in it: Storify.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2013.05.21 12:58. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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