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What Exactly Qualifies this as News?

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This is what makes people question the media these days… Last Thursday, The Christian Science Monitor ran an article on the nature of self-publishing. The article, that interviews a self-published author, quotes a couple of industry experts, and details the obstacles that these authors face. My question is why anyone would consider this new information and therefore newsworthy?

The article begins with an interesting lede about self-published writer Larry Layman. He’s a policeman in Peoria, IL who writes his novels “in his police car during slow periods on patrol.” Now, although plenty of people might want to discuss Layman’s attention, it is an interesting image and beginning to the article.

The article then discusses iUniverse and how they charge $500 to print the books. The article gives a brief overview of the emergence of print-on-demand technology that fuels many new publishing ventures. All that information is fine and good, but nothing really new to anyone who has been paying attention to these matters.

Then, the old accusations against PublishAmerica are trotted out. The article states that “Earlier this year, a group of science-fiction writers wanted to see if a self- proclaimed discriminating publisher, PublishAmerica, bothered to read submissions. So they produced Atlanta Nights, which came to be dubbed the worst novel in history. The authors were told to write badly and had no idea of the novel’s plot or where their chapters would appear. Some chapters were duplicated or had no copy at all, and one featured random gibberish created by a computer. PublishAmerica initially sent an acceptance letter, but rescinded its offer the next day.”

I have a couple of criticisms about this segment of the article. First of all, the group of science-fiction authors named themselves Travis Tea as the “au