Mike the Mad Biologist

Things are kind of hectic, but I stumbled across this interesting post by Chris Colvin, an NBC news writer, about blogging:

Now to the news media.. the Mainstream Media.. as it has become known, and an object lesson in how the blogosphere is changing the way the MSM operates. (And I say this at the risk of sounding hopelessly naive to the many people who think the “corporate media” exists to push a political agenda– if that’s true, I’m either too stupid or too low on the food chain to be able to actually demonstrate it.) Anyway. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald has engaged in a fairly brutal takedown of something TIME columnist Joe Klein wrote about Congressional Democrats’ updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act– which turned into a series of posts that culminated with Greenwald today demanding answers from Klein’s editor. (And incidentally, raising the issue of a false story one of our competitors ran with back in 2001, which had a particularly nasty resonance in our newsroom– and for which there was never an apology or any accountability.) Believe me, I’m not pointing this out because it involves competitors. Browse around the archives of DailyHowler.com or MediaMatters.org if you want to see harsh criticism of us. The point is, journalists, particularly in Washington, aren’t going to be able to repeat partisan spin that contains falsehoods as analysis without being called on it anymore. And as Greenwald notes, it’s rather telling that the calling-out is coming from the blogosphere and not the actual Democrats who Klein misrepresented. Maybe that’s why there is a blogosphere to begin with.

The idea that there are ‘bloggers’ who somehow dwell among us and yet are not of us has always struck me as strange. What the traditional media are discovering is that many people think they do a crappy job–and now those dissatisfied customers can tell the traditional media that too many of them are doing a lousy job:

One of the interesting things about blogging is that it has undermined the importance of the punditocracy. In the pre-interenet, and certainly pre-blog era, you had a very different relationship to politics, even if you were aware and relatively active: you were a consumer.

By consumer, I mean that you used to have to wait around and hope that some columnist or editorial board would speak for you. There were some alternatives, such as writing letters to the editor, or in the early days of the internet, posting at electronic bulletin boards (remember those?). But now with blogging, it is possible to speak for yourself. That completely undermines the role of the punditocracy. There are a lot of smart people out there who never had a voice before, and now they do. Why listen to a pundit about the Middle East, when there are serious scholars who are quite familiar with the region who can offer commentary? Why listen to Gregg Easterbrook about science when you have these here ScienceBlogs with real, live, professional scientists?

The only thing I would add to that would be to replace Gregg Easterbrook with William Saletan

Comments

  1. #1 Mark P
    November 29, 2007

    It came as no surprise to me that the MSM have had a hard time figuring out what blogs are all about and making the first steps towards accepting them. I remember not that long ago when the print media had the same problem with TV. The newspaper I worked for many, many years ago (OK, 30+ years ago) didn’t publish a TV program guide because they didn’t want to give any advantage to television in what they perceived as a competition. Now both electronic and print media are having that problem with blogs.

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