Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The death of the MSM

I think that this is what the deathknell of the mainstream media looks like:

"Right now, get off the couch. While I'm talking, you pick up the phone. You call the newspaper," he commanded. If ACORN hasn't been on the front page, or if the paper isn't investigating the group's local activities, "then what the hell are they good for?"

Shortly, The Post and other papers were flooded with angry calls and e-mails.

It's tempting to dismiss such gimmicks. Fox News, joined by right-leaning talk radio and bloggers, often hypes stories to apocalyptic proportions while casting competitors as too liberal or too lazy to report the truth. [...]

Why the tardiness?

One explanation may be that traditional news outlets like The Post simply don't pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints.

It "can't be discounted," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Complaints by conservatives are slower to be picked up by non-ideological media because there are not enough conservatives and too many liberals in most newsrooms."

The MSM is done for. I'm completely serious. This can't be the story if the Post wants to claim to be nonpartisan. The standard for something being newsworthy can't be that one side's media machine wants it to be newsworthy. Especially if that side holds no actual political power, and few people who aren't conservative activists are clamoring for the perspectives of conservative activists in the media. Alexander's vision is essentially for the news media to become a blog aggregator, but this vision is rather short-sighted as evidently he doesn't realize that such a change could just involve cutting out the middleman and losing him and his staff and keeping Google News.

The news media needs to report newsworthy things. These include: important legislation being passed, major executive actions being taken by the government, war updates, natural disasters--in other words, things happening. They can also include navel-gazing and horserace silliness. They cannot include wild and unsubstantiated claims based on made-up assumptions about things that have yet to happen. This isn't news. I'm not sure what to call it, but it's not news.

What I'm most interested in is the notion by Rosenstiel that the media is nonideological. Of course it's ideological, and that this sort of thing is said without irony is merely evidence that these folks have swallowed their own BS. The notion of an objective media is an artifact of a time of broad liberal consensus on the issues of the day, and as that consensus has crumbled, so has that media. But even in the days of Murrow the media was ideological (and indeed liberal), just like it's ideological now. The problem, as I see it, is that the current ideology is nihilism.

Nonideological is impossible to do, but nonpartisan isn't. I'd say that the media is nonpartisan, but fundamentally uninterested in truth, which was the whole point of the enterprise. I really want to believe that newspapers going bust is going to be bad for our society, but when you publish an article like this, you're not giving me much to work with.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.