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Is online journalism dead?
August 30, 2000 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Is online journalism dead? Good points, but don't know if I buy the whole argument
posted by owillis (4 comments total)

 
I highly recommend G. Beato's take on this piece. You can read it at Soundbitten.
posted by msippey at 9:36 AM on August 30, 2000


Corporate media, online or off, has been dead for quite some time.

Journalism, in its present state, is subsidized not by the people, but by corporate advertising -- advertising created by the very same companies that write the news -- that is, public relations firms "design" most of what you watch or read weeks ahead of time. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on this effort to "forge public opinion".

The author of the article is worried about the loss of what it calls "quality journalism". Sorry, but the only difference between (say) Slate and (say) Fox News is demographics. There is no difference in information quality. In either case the function of "the news" is to promote corporate interests (why would the shareholders pay for it otherwise?)
posted by johnb at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2000


I am amused by the thought that things like the Ford/Firestone tire mess are caused by the companies' own public relations firms. That incident alone disproves johnb's theory. (Not that PR firms don't do lots of dirty work, but it's not the single spigot from which spews forth All Journalism.

>>In either case the function of "the news" is to promote corporate interests (why would the shareholders pay for it otherwise?)<<

To make money. Time Warner would publish their own version of the Socialist Worker's Daily if people would buy it. Which they won't.

Back to the original article. I don't really buy her central argument either; very very few of the journalists that went to the web did so purely with the high-falutin' ideal of Doing Quality Work; they did it to get in on the supposed gold rush. And now they're falling on their butts just like everybody else. Big whoop.

By the way, back in those "golden pre-Reagan days," network news consisted pretty much of the 30 minutes you got at 6:30, and not much else. And that 30 minutes is still there every night. Deregulation didn't have jack to do with the decline in quality; the decline is because there are infinitely more choices now and most people can get their news from a million other sources.
posted by aaron at 4:32 PM on August 30, 2000



I am amused by the thought that things like the Ford/Firestone tire mess are caused by the companies' own public relations firms.

Huh? Obviously the mess itself was caused by Firestone's own ineptitude.

That incident alone disproves johnb's theory.

How so??? By the way, I don't have a special "theory" -- unless you just mean the theory of shareholder value

(Not that PR firms don't do lots of dirty work, but it's not the single spigot from which spews forth All Journalism.)

I never said it was. What I said was:

....public relations firms "design" most of what you watch or read weeks ahead of time. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on this effort to "forge public opinion".

Statistically, that is absolutely true.

[Full disclosure: my father does public relations for a well known technology company. Every once in a while I do a WWW search for an obviously biased sentence or paragraph from the public relations material; very often it will appear verbatim in several "reputable" news sources. NY Times/WSJ at least makes an effort to rewrite it, but the spirit is the same]

(why would the shareholders pay for it otherwise?)<<
To make money.

No kidding. When I say "promotion of corporate interests" I obviously mean "promotion of corporate economic interests"...

Time Warner would publish their own version of the Socialist Worker's Daily if people would buy it. Which they won't.

The vast majority of media company revenue comes from advertising. Anti-capitalists tend not to get a lot of coverage for two reasons: (1) they are not the juiciest demographic segment, to put it mildly (except for academic booksellers) and (2) Anti-capitalist institutions don't have the money or inclination to buy a lot of advertising. When they do actually have the money to buy ads, they are immediately rejected because, as NBC said to Adbusters: "we don't want to take any advertising that's inimical to our legitimate business interests". There are innumerable cases like this. For example, see this WSJ article on the networks' rejection of a "Buy Nothing Day" ad.
posted by johnb at 10:15 PM on August 30, 2000


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