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« What A Tease | Main | Half Educated? »

Jay Rosen's Questions

He has a couple about the Eason Jordan "kerfuffle:"

Overlooking the larger scene, Michael Barone of US News writes: "The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004."

Barone, a friend to the right blogosphere, is correct-- and he's being candid. The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is the Mainstream Media. (For the Left it's Bush, he says.) I want to know what the right blogosphere says back. Not to me, although that's fine too, but to Michael Barone. Is he right?

I don't know how to answer that question (though I agree with his diagnosis of the MSM from the perspective of the "right blogosphere"), because it's a complex one (in the literal sense of the phrase). I don't consider myself part of the "right blogosphere." I doubt if Glenn Reynolds does either. Until we get past this simplistic need to label, I'm not sure that we'll make much progress in having a dialogue (which leads to his next question):

In an effort to go dialogic, I asked Will Collier of Vodka Pundit (who got into it with Steve Lovelady of CJR Daily) a question that I hope is both pointed and open ended: Is the point to have a dialogue with the MSM or help cause its destruction? (Or is there a third and fourth alternative we should be discussing?) This is something the blogging world should take a moment for and reflect upon.

There's at least a third (and probably a fourth and fifth, and...). The points are to get the MSM to 1) recognize that it has a problem with political bias; 2) to recognize that this bias tilts politically to whatever is meant by the "left" to those who accuse some of the blogosphere of being on the "right;" and 3) to come up with some means of addressing this issue, and some means of bringing accountability to those who spin the news in a certain direction while expressing outrage that their coverage is characterized as anything other than "objective."

Howzat for an alternative, Mr. Rosen?

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 14, 2005 06:10 PM
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The correct answer is that everybody is biased and most are clueless (which is a reason to read blogs... to reduce the cluelessness factor.) The problem with the MSM is that they are hypocritical and myopic about it (calling someone rightwing (especially when they are not) might bring them comfort but doesn't move anything forward.)

Anybody that wants to tell others what's true better be wearing asbestus loafers.

Posted by ken anthony at February 14, 2005 07:00 PM

It's very telling that these occasions of successfully holding LSM figures accountable for egregious betrayals of their self-proclaimed mission, are regarded as attempts to destroy the LSM.

The subject in this case has been recalcitrant for decades, and remains so despite the growing body of evidence that people who have been saying it's biased, have been right all along. It may be that only a survival crisis can bring about the necessary change. Or it may be that the patient cannot be saved, in which case the humane thing might very well be to have it put down.

But it's not up to the LSM's critics whether it lives or dies.

Posted by McGehee at February 14, 2005 07:27 PM

"Or is there a third and fourth alternative we should be discussing?"

I'd be happy with just freaking footnotes. Hyperlinked footnotes would rock. But writing a story that give the _impression_ that is has four sources when it really has only one makes it tough to separate the news from the reporter's opinion.

The 'MSM' _does_ do a lot of work on many stories - with access and resources that the blogs might find difficult to replicate. But they don't footnote. And the _appendicies_ to the stories are never available.

Posted by Al at February 14, 2005 09:32 PM

A caller to Hugh Hewitt's radio show today drew an analogy between MSM behavior like CBS's in the case of RatherGate and virtually the entire MSM in the case of Eason Jordon in Davos, and that often attributed to policemen when one of their own becomes an object of public scrutiny - i.e., the "blue curtain" or "code of silence." Looked at in this light, said the caller, the Blogosphere has begun to act as the Internal Affairs division of the MSM. The MSM, unsurprisingly, have no love for the members of the "Rat Squad."

This isn't the whole story of the Blogosphere, obviously, but it's the part that the MSM cares about and notices most.

Posted by Dick Eagleson at February 15, 2005 01:34 AM

I think your all very close...The tele is not designed to inform it's designed to indoctrinate. A computer is designed to inform. That’s why the internet is so popular for wonks and geeks alike. It allows you to ask to question, to seek more viewpoints. Nothing is taken on faith. The tele is the lazy man’s information. A fine system if you’re interested in sports scores or Brittany’s butt. However if you all really interested in getting the MSM to change you need to herd them in here where taking heads are of no use and facts reign supreme. When the anchor’s statements are backed up by links to the facts he is “summarizing” on the screen the MSM as we know it will cease to exist. Here we are in a world where your political enemy’s are your best friends. They keep you honest. The technology is already here it’s just a matter of time before the news is a streaming video link with every story backed by supporting data. Data which will be eviscerated if shown to be untrue by its adversaries, championed and used as a club if shown to be substantial by it’s suporters. Ask Dan…So who would like to be the first Cyber Ancor??????

Posted by jjs at February 15, 2005 07:38 AM

You wouldn't even need to be a "Cyber Anchor". At the end of any segment, flash links to your sources (if they're web links) on the screen, and post summaries and a bibliography available on the news company's web page for all stories.

More times than not, I've found myself caught up doing something or "zoning out" while watching a news story, or I come in in the middle of it. Some stations (mostly local stations) are good about posting summaries or additional information on their web site about news stories that they've run.

Hire an intern to update the web site after each news program (or update it before, and release it after), and put a summary of each story with links to more information. $20,000 a year, and boom, you've got accountability and, with it, credibility.

The MSM doesn't have to fight the internet to keep their ratings up. If they embraced the internet, it could help their ratings in more ways than they could imagine.

Unless, of course, they never had reliable sources in the first place... ::glances around nervously::

Posted by John Breen III at February 15, 2005 07:48 AM

What I'd like is an honest MSM. I'll settle for seeing its power destroyed.

I'm not part of the MSM, so I can't force them to be honest. Only they can do that.

As a citizen with a computer, I can try to destroy their credibility with others, and will do so whenever they're dishonest.

I don't expect them to ever stop being dishonest, because they would lose most of their power if they put honesty above advancing their agendas. So I hope and cheer for their destruction.

Posted by Greg D at February 16, 2005 04:50 PM

"I don't expect them to ever stop being dishonest, because they would lose most of their power if they put honesty above advancing their agendas. So I hope and cheer for their destruction."

To I thought that their power was based upon the until now fairly reasonable assumption that they WERE honest....

If it is not, then I clearly am behind the cutting edge when it comes to to thinking.

Posted by william Lindsay at February 19, 2005 01:34 AM

We are too narrow if we look at this as only left versus right. It also includes a heavy dollop of sensationalism (for advertizing dollars) as a key motivator. An advantage blogs have had (so far) is that few, if any, are actually making money at it, so the motivation is oriented more towards convincing others one is correct or insightful instead of thrilling or exciting or celebrity chasing. I pity the MSM manager who truly wants to include reasoned debate but runs up against Oprah (or Jerry Springer) in the ratings war.

Posted by Bob Mitze at February 19, 2005 10:10 AM

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