Bertrand Pecquerie on Media Channel complains:
What is amazing about this piece of news is that very few people seem to be worried: the emergence of blogs -- not just the Drudge Report but its newer cousins such as Wonkette, InstaPundit and Daily Kos -- is now a part of the American media landscape. Organizations with hundreds of staff -- including professionally trained journalists and small armies of fact-checkers -- are now measured as equals to a single person working out of a basement. But nobody seems to care!
Shouldn't we be concerned about the state of American news when rumors and second-hand commentary become as important as breaking global events and investigative reports? And ironically, during the presidential elections, major American newspapers were almost obliged to follow the lead set by opinionated weblogs: de facto, their agenda was driven by this new cast of opinion leaders.
[Note: A slightly different version appears on Editors' Weblog, which, I believe, puts the piece in its proper context.]
This strikes me as either blindness to what blogging really is, fear of a perceived threat to his seat of power and authority, or a curmudgeonly grumble about changes wrought by new technologies -- or perhaps all three. It's pretty easy to imagine Mr. Pecquerie making a similar kind of protest against the printing press. "But--but--but anyone will be able to print a broadside!"
One of the most important needs in a robust democracy, I feel, is a thriving democracy of ideas. Yes, there's a lot of chaff out there, but it all gets hashed around. Personally I think the existence of an active blogosphere is a heck of a lot better than our having multinational corporations and establishment-softened (or "-hardened," depending on your pov) news organizations (right and left) defining our news reality, and citizen-couch-potatoes sitting passively in front of the boob tube or reading only the "news fit to print."
Without blogs, would the media be covering all the problems with election improprieties and electronic voting machines?
Without blogs, would the media ever have started covering the silent, shameful way the bodies of American soldiers are smuggled home?
These are just a couple of examples where blogs broke and/or pushed the story.
I'm sorry, but the state of American media -- television and newspapers alike -- was all fouled up before blogging became the buzz. Mr. Pecquerie needs to find another boogie man. Personally, if I had to choose between newspapers and blogs, I'd take blogs. More people than news editors are capable of critical thinking, and those who don't do it can learn how ... or aren't paying attention anyway.