Skip to comments.Journalism's fear and loathing of blogs
Posted on 08/08/2005 6:07:27 PM PDT by Crackingham
Mainstream journalism is running scared. It's watching its audience numbers decline and its public trust numbers drop. Newspapers, magazines, and network television news have been shaken by major scandals. The media have seen the future and it is blogging.
Or at least that's the story this year. "Mainstream journalism," however you want to define it, has been under siege so long it's hard to keep track of all the people, things, and outlets that were or are still going to destroy it.
Blogs, or weblogs - websites on which a person or a group of people opines about events, reports what's been heard, or simply links to other sites (many of which are also blogs) - are the latest concern among journalists who look at them with curiosity and fear.
Many believe blogs are a dangerous direct competitor to mainstream journalism - a way for individuals and interest groups to reach around the gatekeeper function that newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio have traditionally held. Some even see them as the future of journalism; an army of citizen journalists bringing the unfiltered news to a public hungry for the inside dope.
"The latest, and perhaps gravest, challenge to the journalistic establishment is the blog," Richard Posner wrote last week in The New York Times Book Review. Actually Mr. Posner wrote about a lot of challenges the media faced, but gave blogs a lot of space as he spelled out their advantages. They bring expertise. They bring flair and opinion. They bring more checks and balances than the mainstream media.
"It's as if the Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising," he explained.
Ah, yes, in the future news will be bountiful and free with no advertising. Can't beat that. If they throw in complimentary ice cream we've really got something here.
Let me just say for the record, I have nothing against blogs. I actually like them. Their formula of opinion, links, and reportage can be refreshing - though they are often short on the last part of that mix. And the voices they enter into the media dialogue sometimes offer perspectives that otherwise might never be heard.
But if you really look closely, all this "and in the future ..." talk seems a bit far-fetched for a number of reasons.
For all the bloggers' victories (like raising questions about memos in CBS's Bush/National Guard story) there are numerous failures (gossiping about John Kerry's affair that never happened or how the presidential election was rigged in Ohio). And most bloggers simply don't have time or staff to, say, launch an investigation into the internal workings of the Department of State. Getting leaks and tips is one thing, digging for the fuller story is quite another.
But the main reason blogs can't really supplant the mainstream media is what they cover. If you go looking for blogs about national politics, foreign affairs, celebrities or (yes) the media, you won't go wanting. In fact, every one of the country's top 10 most visited blogs deals with one of these subjects, according to www.truthlaidbear.com itself a "portal to the blogosphere."
That's not really that surprising. To be a serious blogger - one who can devote his time and energy to the job - one needs to make a name for himself, sell ad space, and get paid. And to make a name, sell ad space, and get paid, one needs a national audience.
In other words, if you live in, say, Grand Rapids, Mich. and are looking for the latest developments on the construction on the nearby highway, or the city council budget, or a millage dispute - things that impact people in very real ways - you're not going to have much luck in the blogosphere.
Even large cities and state capitals, except for those that are part of the media/government industrial complex, are relatively blog free. And it's hard to see how that will change.
The number of people interested in devoting their life to things like local zoning rules is a bit more limited than those interested in national politics. Getting paid to do it would probably be all but impossible. And that's a problem.
For all the fretting, blogging ultimately is bound to be less a replacement for the traditional media than a complement. The fact is, journalism's most critical responsibilities in a democratic society - seeking, reporting, and analyzing news and holding people accountable - aren't easy to fulfill.
People rightly point out that the media often fail at those tasks. It's just hard to see how making it a volunteer position or a part-time job could improve the situation.
So is this guy saying that the future of the New York Times is in reporting on zoning board hearings or construction projects? Let them have it, as long as the web handles foreign and domestic policy.
Of course blogs are dangerous to MSM. Blogs are only half the equation. They require the reader to meet them halfway and form an opinion as the veracity and substance of what has been read on blog.
That makes the message more dependable...it increases competition. And it requires the blogger and the reader of the blog to seek the self-evident truth...the truth that stands on its own two feet.
The real truth.
Translation: We suck - but we're getting paid to suck. So there!
If you cut off the droning TVs in countless nursing homes, hospitals, and airports, you have a vastly diminished audience for the MSM. And those who do watch are dying off, as witness the ads for drugs and denture cream on the three nightly news shows. I really don't think the evening news shows will be around in 10 years.
If I want local news I watch my local newscast or read my local paper.
They are not the old media,in fact from a conversation I had with a local cBS affiliate,during memogate,they want the old media to go away,it's hurting their bottom line.
"don't think the evening news shows will be around in 10 years."
I can't wait - the MSM is responsible for so much leftist atrocity
The flow of information from the main stream media has for most of its history been one way. It was difficult, if not impossible to get an opposing word in edgewise from the flow of "conventional wisdom" that the main stream media provided.
That is what is coming to an end. The MSM will continue to gather the news, but they will need to be more careful on how they spin it, because the internet has become their fact checkers.
In time, a balance will be found, but I don't think it will occur until the current crop of reporters (who were all raised on the glory days of Watergate, are gone.
Newspapers and newsmagazines will become profitable again when they go back to thier roots of reporting the news (who, what, when, where, and how) and not trying to shape the opinion of the American people.
The downside of MSM (beside their left leaning anti- US or perhaps anti- Bush bias) is that they don't have persons on their staff that can write informative articles on a subject which presents both sides and the facts of the situation. Once one reads what is written (if you have not upchucked) you don't know anymore than when you began. I lay it to present day state of the educational system.
"Journalists" are over-rated. Watergate elevated them to a position they do not deserve. Most are hacks who give English deapartments a bad name.
"The fact is, journalism's most critical responsibilities in a democratic society - seeking, reporting, and analyzing news and holding people accountable - aren't easy to fulfill."
The "fact" is that reporters aren't fulfilling that role. They are partisan snipes who seel to inluence events, not report on them. Thats why so many American's are turning away from the MSM monopoly - to talk radio and the net - to get information without leftist socialist spin.
Was this sentence done "tongue in cheek"? As the description of either man,whether one agrees with any given viewpoint,as hate filled seems to be a talking point of the left.
As to the topic posted what the MSM hates is logical,rational people reflecting on issues that differs from the lib propaganda script that all lemmings are supposed to accept as fact without question.
The danger blogs pose to the "mainstream media" lies less in terms of competition, and more in terms of how they will force changes on an industry that despises change.
Bloggers have nailed their list of grievances to the door of the journalistic cathedral.
What remains to be seen is how the cardinals of the Church of Journalism will respond to the Protestant Reformation growing on the Internet.
So far, they seem to be sticking to the traditional script which dictates that they must adamantly defend the myth of their own infallibility in sanctimonious tones.
We'll see how well that strategy plays out.
Based on what I've seen, the "faithful" don't appear to be very impressed with it.
> Most [journalists] are hacks who give English departments a bad name.
No. They are active propagandists, and taught to be so:
"In other words, if you live in, say, Grand Rapids, Mich. and are looking for the latest developments on the construction on the nearby highway, or the city council budget, or a millage dispute - things that impact people in very real ways - you're not going to have much luck in the blogosphere."
I can't ever remember worrying too much about those issues. Local radio pretty much covers it and The Daily Shopper (delivered free to my house) has all kinds un-employed reporters, all to willing to tell me what they think, scrambling to peddle their screed. So it goes. Get a job like everybody else. You aren't as important as you think you are.
There's some truth in that, but who edits the editor? The problem with most of the dailies I've worked on (aside from the fact I was pretty much the only conservative on staff) were that the editors were 10 times more biased than the reporters. The only one with more of an agenda than the editor was the publisher or owner. And of course, nothing appears if it offends his/her political sensibilities. The beauty of blogs is that pure BS will eventuall be revealed, usually sooner than later. You can fool some of the people all of the time (Californians mainly) but there are always a few expert readers who will know the facts. Granted, the writing can be horrendous, but if I want literature I'll read Shakespeare.
The UN is fighting like the devil to get control of the internet. The MSM supports them, we and sites like us don't. It's their way of shutting up the opposition.
The simple fact that there are no heir apparents at any of the networks shows that they already know that they are dead.
Hey, they shouldn't worry: We still need them to write the articles that we tear apart!
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