The summer of our discontent

Cliches aren’t all bad. Take for instance this one: “If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

It appears that someone may be using American discontent with the news media to invent something that it is too good to be true. I say appear because I am not 100 percent certain. I only have circumstantial evidence. If I am wrong, the person or persons involved can sue me. Which would be unfortunate for them because if they won, THEY would end up in the red.

Listed this morning on Yahoo Hotjobs for Beaumont, Texas, — where I live — was this ad:

USA Voice Launching
Come be a part of USA Voice

“In July 2006 USA Voice is launching the world’s largest news organization. The power of the Internet is allowing USA Voice to launch a worldwide news network, focusing on news reported by local reporters in over 1,000 cities worldwide.”

The ad goes on to say that USA Voice wants voices that are “edgy” and “not reporters who have been through the ‘establishment’ news organizations.” So that leaves quite a few people don’t you think? Never mind that those people might not have a clue about what is news, how to collect it or write about it.

Continuing with the pitch, this news organization that will supposedly be the “world’s largest” says editors will have “total anonymity to run the stories he or she feels are relevant and newsworthy.” Hmmm, I wonder if their slogan will be “Anonymity Inspires Accountability?”

You may obviously sense that the ad struck me as a bit suspicious. I realize that I’m not always on top of all the news that I should be. But after searching various news Web sites including “Google News,” I couldn’t find a single story about the anticipated start-up of USA Voice. I also could find no press releases or other pertinent information after a Web search about operations beginning for this huge “peer-to-peer” news organization.

What I did find on the Web were some people who believe this is a scam that is masterminded by someone with a history of Internet scams. Klaas DeVries Jr., whomever that is, has quite an extensive dossier on the supposed brainchild. DeVries believes that USA Voice is some sort of method for mining personal information that could be used for consumer fraud. I also saw similar concerns both in a forum as well as doing a search of blogs on Technorati.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything about USA Voice from government or Better Business Bureau databases. But I do find the circumstantial evidence to be sufficient that I am not going to correspond with USA Voice about a position.

Although the news media may not always be totally on their game, one would think there would be tons of stories about a news outlet which would potentially be the world’s largest. Secondly, I did a “Who Is” search and found the domain was created April 26, 2006. To put together an Internet site for the world’s largest news organization to be up and running by the end of this month would be the relative equivalent of the “Genesis” creation story of the Earth.

Whether USA Voice is a scam or legit, I don’t know. It certainly sounds “phishy.” I must say, however, that whomever is behind it has cleverly tapped into the bashing of the so-called “mainstream media,” which is so popular today among both those who are politically left and right. I worked in the MSM for a number of years and I will be the first to tell you that it has its faults, although the MSM isn’t as homogeneous as some would have you believe. There is a lot of self-righteous bashing these days of “corporate media,” as if every story — be it a report of a car wreck or about the Iraq War policy — was directed out of the corporate boardrooms. What a bunch of hooey!

Many people are so quick to want to hear the news that they want to hear. It’s as if news contrary to the beliefs of some should not exist at all. Well, enough preaching for today. If you want a fabulous job as a “citizen journalist,” then good luck. I also suggest you be very careful before applying to something that sounds too good to be true.

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