Taking issue with what I and Matsu had to say about the corporate-owned-and-sponsored mainstream media's attidues about blogs, Pennywit writes:
Media Girl and other liberals like to rave about the corporate media. Meanwhile, conservatives constantly find grist for their "liberal media" theories. And liberal and conservative bloggers both enjoy getting up on the High Blogging Horse to rant at the old media for just not Getting It, whatever "It" might be."It" is that blogging is communication, not a one-way media form. It's like the telephone, only more interconnected, less binary. "It" is a change the change in the dynamic of public discourse. The mainstream media, however, treat "the bloggers" like a new cable news channel. It's a misconception that feeds into their fears that they're losing touch.
Until now, We The People could be heard directly only by marching en masse. The mainstream media decided what was "fit to print" and what wasn't. For example, during last year's Republican National Convention, the mainstream media figured that over 100,000 people marching in protest in New York City was not fit to print. Mass arrests were not fit to print.
This is just one way how the mainstream media has been failing us.
But with blogging -- which is still quite new but growing fast, and is just one way in which citizens are finding empowerment in the 21st century -- We The People can do more than just shout in outrage at the miscoverage or non-coverage of current events. Now we are hearing each other's dissent, and we're finding that we're all feeling the same way.
The fact that the right wing grassroots also feel that the mainstream media is failing them I think only lends credence to what I believe is the real reason why television news and newspaper circulations are down: they are not telling the truth. They report on politicans' spin and call it news. They give equal voice to different sides of spin, and they call it news.
But I have to ask:
* How many bloggers are bona fide experts on their subject, whether that subject be sports, arts, or health-care policy?If you actually look, there are experts in all fields, and many of them are blogging about it. Many of these are experts who do not have buddies in the corporate newsrooms. In fact, the newsrooms don't want experts, they want bloviators who will spout outrageous crap. They like conflict, and will try to sell it time and time again.
* How many bloggers march, unarmed, into a warzone and send reports back to the American public?How many bloggers from those occupied countries would ever get the chance to report on mainsream news outlets what they're seeing and experiencing?
* How many bloggers track down sources and hound those sources until they consent to an interview?How many news people do this? There's no budget for investigative journalism any more. "A mile wide and an inch deep" is the self-criticism coming from reporters who are disgruntled with the decisions made in the corporate boardrooms. News is not as profitable as other ventures, so it's not considered deserving of funding to do the job right.
* How many bloggers slog through a two-hour town hall meeting and write up the results (schools and sewers) for a waiting public?Again, how many reporters actually do this? In fact, in each of those meetings there are more than likely many times more bloggers than reporters. But you don't hear from them. Why? Because the reporters have the distribution. It doesn't mean the reporter is right or doesn't have a bias or isn't under an editorial imperative to tell the story from a given angle. It just means the reporter has the distribution.
Some reporters do great work. Unfortunately, most of them are no longer employed by mainstream media outlets -- if they ever were. They have cashed in their chips and gone off and written books or in-depth articles that get sold freelance.
And then there's the great reporting that never sees the light of day. Central America is not newsworthy so we never hear about what's going on there, even when our own government is directly involved. We don't hear about Iraqi casualties. Why? Because it's not "fit to print." No, we need to go online to find these things.
We go online to find foreign news sources, too. Funny how when you look at the international news how it becomes so clear that we live in this news bubble, with our own skewed version of the world.
To go by our mainstream news media, Michael Jackson is more important than the war on Iraq. So is Martha Stewart. We should be obsessing about a "runaway bride" rather than the corruption scandals in the House of Representative. We should be focusing on whether an American Idol contestant had sex with a judge rather than about the ballooning trade deficit or nuclear proliferation or global warming or crackdowns in Russia or any number of other issues.
They insist on reporting on irrelevancies, and then wonder that they are found to be increasingly irrelevant.
In the run-up to the war, what the mainstream media did was an obscenity. The nationalistic cheerleading and uncritical reporting on what the government was claiming led to a great bamboozling of the public, where a huge percentage actually believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and that he was about to bomb the heartland of America.
That is the failing of the news media, not the bloggers. The popularity of blogs is a symptom of journalism's failings, not the cause.
A few bloggers do some or all of the above, but those bloggers are in the very small minority. Most bloggers, in fact, are commentators, not reporters. They aggregate other people's work, rely on other people's reporting, and build opinions based on hard work of professional journalists.Most bloggers also never claim to be reporters. Most bloggers are quite openly and honestly just sharing their opinions. There's no pretense that bloggers are reporting news.
The blogs with the highest traffic are quite open about this. And when they do report on something, they cite their sources with hyperlinks and quotes. Often it's more than one source. In fact, a vast majority of blogging is actually blogging about what reporters are reporting, with citations.
What the mainstream media don't like is that this means the audience has become critical consumers. Instead of just accepting whatever crap they try to feed us, we actually have become more discerning, more skeptical, and more proactive about finding out the real story.
And that is why the old guard feels threatened.
The blogs are not a news medium, they are the voices of the news consumers. They -- we -- have opinions about what they -- we -- are reading and hearing, and some people just don't like that. But guess what, guys -- it's a reality. It's happening.
The mainstream media have the budgets, they have the rock star reporters, they have the cameras, they have the distribution -- but they don't have the willingness to actually do the job that's necessary to produce strong news. The star reporters seem to think that their shit doesn't stink, and just because they did real investigative journalism years ago they should get a pass on the crap they try to push off as news today. But that doesn't wash. That boat don't float. They're trying to sell us a pig in a poke, and we aren't buying.
Show me a news organization that invests large amounts into establishing real international news bureaus, into giving reporters the time and resources to do investigative reporting, and combine that with an editorial and corporate willingness to report on the news, rather than feed the public wrap-arounds for Viagra commercials and call it news, and a willingness to "risk" criticizing the government and to hell with "loss of access" they fear as a consequence -- show me these things, and I will show you a news organization that stands to increase its audience to the point of dominance. The people want news, and they aren't getting it.
Until then, all the "noble reporter" homilies in the world will not convince me that CNN or Fox or even the New York Times is feeding me anything but what they find convenient to sell, rather than what is most important for us to know as citizens in this country. They believe that they benefit from a disempowered audience. That is their blindness. They see darkness and declare that the sky is falling, when all they need do is open their eyes.