Skip

Grailquest 2005 : distributed Citizen journalism, bloggy politics
March 28, 2005 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Sails to harness Vox Populi winds : "Technology is changing politics" [ not to mention journalism ] intones the well connected Personal Democracy Forum, and everybody's leaping into the "Blogging vs. Journalism" fray. Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media, has quit his job after receiving seed money from Mitch Kapor and from Omidyar Networks, to found the for-profit "Grassroots Media Inc." : Gillmor's got a hand, as well, in the noble and name studded OurMedia.org : "We'll host your media forever — for free.....Video blogs, photo albums, home movies, podcasting, digital art, documentary journalism, home-brew political ads"

Meanwhile, SusanG - in her most recent recently released investigative piece into the Jeff Gannon/fake journalism scandal notes her research group's effort "now encompasses so much more than Gannon" and announces future stories will post under the organizational name of ePluribus Media

"We're the People ! No you're not, we're the People ! No way ! We're the...."
posted by troutfishing (110 comments total)

 
BTW, before folks jump all over my main link because it's a bit elderly, most of the other links are very new and quite timely. My main link serves mainly as a backgrounder : OK for what it is, but the meat is elsewhere.

Enjoy.
posted by troutfishing at 5:28 PM on March 28, 2005


I agree that the problem is bigger than the individual players. The problem is inconsistent scrutiny. People form their opinions politically, rather than looking at evidence.

There's already a rehabilitation of sorts for Gannon.

Of course, he's such a jackass I'm sure he'll only dig a deeper hole for himself.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2005


Most bloggers aren't journalists. They just steal other people's stories and then add opinion.

BTW, nice to see you posting again trout. I missed you the last few months.
posted by caddis at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2005


Just to clarify. I think of a journalist as someone reporting news, not just opinions. Most bloggers provide more opinion than news. They are not out collecting news, or reporting news that was collected on their behalf. They just point to someone else's story and then comment. Important to the political process to be sure, but is it really journalism?
posted by caddis at 6:16 PM on March 28, 2005


But some are, caddis--americablog, for one, and many others. It's all the connecting of the dots the regular media just doesn't do anymore. Whether you want to call it reporting or not, it's certainly revealing facts that haven't been revealed elsewhere. Look at all the revelations about the protestors in the Schiavo thing--the father of a kid arrested is a sex offender, others are militia, others have pulled plugs themselves, Randall Terry, etc. The media just puts them on the air and doesn't ever tell who they are or give any context. Call it investigation, call it whatever--i call it good journalism--and important.
posted by amberglow at 6:24 PM on March 28, 2005


I guess you could say that regular journalists have abdicated the "why" and the "who" part of every story--bloggers are filling that void. And that's not even going into the actual truth-telling that is now being done by bloggers, instead of the "he said, he said' "balanced" spin and lies in the media.
posted by amberglow at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2005


Is it just me getting sick and tired of the self absorved love of the bloggosphere? As much as I applaud the whole 'power to the people' idea i don't think it's happening thru blogs, mousetivism/slacktivism.

As much as I think that the modern citizen journalist is a step in right direction - people picking up responsibility and activly engaging in politics - we should not confuse reanalyzing political 'droppings' with making politics.

Bloggers only react to what has happened instead of making something happening. But on the positive side they are picking up the job that the corporate media ain't doing anymore ... to watch politicians.

Blogging/Public pressure so far has neither stopped tyrants like Saddam, nor stopped killings in Darfur or changed the harsh global realities for the working men.

And like in most pressing cases of important affairs bloggers are BLIND - they only see and care about mainstream events they are fed by big media. They mostly occupy the lower end of the political/news food chain.
posted by homodigitalis at 6:37 PM on March 28, 2005


True amberglow, and that really is journalism.
posted by caddis at 6:37 PM on March 28, 2005


This is an interesting turning point. Most people recognize the growing influence of blogs, both good and bad. I'd add Kos as a good blogger, too-- one who has grown significantly in the last year. But as the quality of some blogs rise, there is also a call for accountability.

I know that I won't really take any blogger seriously until I know who he or she is, who is paying for the blog et cetera, and what kind of authority s/he has. I need a track record before I'll really listen. I wouldn't have listened to Deep Throat if he hadn't been vetted by the Washington Post.

There is more accountability, but it inconsistent. The problem isn't that Gannon was a whore and a prostitute ( and by whore, I mean only media whore). THe problem was he was accepted by the White House for purely ideological reasons.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:42 PM on March 28, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk writes "Of course, [Gannon/Guckert]'s such a jackass I'm sure he'll only dig a deeper hole for himself."

I thought you had to pay him $200/hr to dig his deeper hole?
posted by orthogonality at 6:49 PM on March 28, 2005


@gesamtkunstwerk: I actually see no real difference between most media whores and Mr Gannon?! First of all, they all do it for money - and most of them push some form of agenda. There is no such thing as a 'holy & pure' journalist.

The mechanism of favoritism in media, news and politics is pretty old - and has always served someones interests.

And what is accountability? The degree how close you get to the truth and/or how much you push an agenda as a part of the media yourself?

Political and social decisions hardly ever are driven by so called 'facts' no 'logic' ... so any reporting will always be an subject to subjectivity. The so called thruth and the motivations/absolution for political action/power will always depend on your position in the political spectrum.

If ... IF ... we would really have 'power to the people' we first of all should question the current structure of current power pyramid ... not how we micromanage the dissection of news droppings.
posted by homodigitalis at 6:55 PM on March 28, 2005


I read in regular media about food tube protestors/family-organization figures who pulled plugs themselves. What did bloggers report there that was new? The only completely reprehensible story I saw at a newspaper site, as opposed to in a political punditry column or on TV, was the NY Times story about how all this circus had increased Jeb Bush's stature. For gosh sakes. But you can read the same type of mindless analysis on blogs, all day long.
posted by raysmj at 7:10 PM on March 28, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk writes: I won't really take any blogger seriously until I know who he or she is, who is paying for the blog et cetera
A good point - there should be clarity as to who the paymasters are.
amberglow writes: I guess you could say that regular journalists have abdicated the "why" and the "who" part of every story--bloggers are filling that void. Journalism today apart from a few seems relegated to sound bites and no depth. This is what the bloggers seem to be bringing back. However the individual bloggers often need editing. The development of epluribus will be interesting to watch.
posted by adamvasco at 7:10 PM on March 28, 2005


Oh ... and thank you troutfishing.
posted by adamvasco at 7:11 PM on March 28, 2005


Universal Finds Blogger Universe Small, But Big Among Young Adults
"Web blogging may have commanded a large share of news headlines last year, but bloggers themselves are still a rare breed, amounting to less than 2 percent of the adult population, according to a recent study by Universal McCann and Media in Mind." [Online Media Daily | March 28, 2005]
posted by ericb at 7:14 PM on March 28, 2005


Blogs, News Sites Team Up To Bring Underreported News to Those beyond the Web
"Two-week project hopes to raise visibility of underreported news....Seeking to bypass government-pre-packaged news and the mainstream media’s lack of substantive reporting, a group of news sites and blogs have teamed up to asks citizens to print, copy, and leave news wherever they go from Mar. 27-Apr. 9–leaving the leaflets in doctors’/dentists’ offices, the DMV, subway walls, bulletin boards, community centers and anywhere else someone is likely to read them." [Raw Story | March 28, 2005]
posted by ericb at 7:21 PM on March 28, 2005


I think what's tiresome is the continual slamming of the "MSM," which is an annoying acronym. Typical is the americablog slamming of the AP for not knowing that one of the protestors was a registered sex offender. This from a site that goes on and on about the "MSM." But where did it pull this info about the sex protestor from? Editor and Publisher, trade journal of the mainstream media, via The Charlotte Observer, a mainstream news source and member of the Associated Press.

If you're connecting the dots, great, but you wouldn't be able to do as well without paid journalists at major newspapers and other mainstream publications.
posted by raysmj at 7:22 PM on March 28, 2005


In case no one has noticed, SusanG's piece is true investigative journalism - according to standard, rigorous definitions of that term.

Yes, most blogs rehash already known facts. But how is the line between "journalism" and "blogging" drawn ? SusanG - and many others in her effort and elsewhere on the net - are in fact trained journalists and media professionals who happen to be posting as "bloggers" but - in fact - they simply lack institutional resources :

Investigative teams, fact checking departments, ancillary organization resources, Lexi-Nexus and other such tools..... libel lawyers. Distribution channels.

If those elements can be assembled on the net, by distributed participation and even via volunteers.....

"we should not confuse reanalyzing political 'droppings' with making politics." - no indeed, but I see no confusion on that count here.

True investigative journalism takes considerable resources. So few on the internet can marshal the necessary firepower.

But, now some can - SusanG has several hundred active volunteers : "Propagannon" - the scandal itself - resulted more than anything from massed volunteer research, and a number of journalists have spoken to me specifically about their sense of astonishment while watching that night, a few weeks ago, when SusanG posted her first "Who is Jeff Gannon" diary, and when the time frame for the research footwork that took Woodward and Bernstein months was collapsed - via the net, DailyKos, a massed, self organizing researh - to a period of mere hours.

In fact, the model of the new media has already been demonstrated - a model that can demostrate equal rigor, and more, to put the already shameful NYT to yet more shame : on both that paper's selectively applied standards of professional rigor, for thoroughness of research, and in terms of impartiality.

No, that is not the blogosphere that now exists. But, that new model has been pioneered. It works.
posted by troutfishing at 7:24 PM on March 28, 2005


Pamphleteers and Web Sites
"There is a similarity between the pamphlets of the American Revolution and today's personal web sites." - written by Dan Bricklin (co-creator of VisiCalc, the first computer spreadsheet).
posted by ericb at 7:24 PM on March 28, 2005


If you're connecting the dots, great, but you wouldn't be able to do as well without paid journalists at major newspapers and other mainstream publications.

But why is it, that with all their resources, the paid journalists don't ever do it? You'd think it'd be simple for them, and a no-brainer. If CNN arranges an interview with someone, don't they do any background checking anymore? Don't they care? If a compelling piece of video is captured by them--say, a kid being arrested at the hospice--isn't it basic curiosity--let alone journalism--to find out who the parents are? (that same thing happened at a Kerry rally, with a parent who staged an assault on his kid to paint Democrats as vicious--it turned out he had done it before, but the regular media didn't bother to question him or his story)
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2005


adamvasco, caddis - thanks.

ericb - That's a great Samizdat project.

raysmj - There are gotcha games aplenty, sure : easy, cheap. But, there is indeed true investigation going on outside the MSM, on the net, as well. You can't deny that : it's merely a question of proportion, for the fact that few bloggers/net journalists have both the necessary training and resources available to paid MSM journalists and reporters.



Homodigitalis - "MSM" ownership has become frightfully concentrated and hence biased towards wealth and power to a degree unprecedented in recent history. The Columbia Journalism Review has a fine, sobering site on media ownership.

Re "what is accountability?" - I challenge you to prove to me that the world outside my shuttered window, tonight, still exists. I say it is a howling void of absolute zero vacuum nothingness that - should I step out my door - will swallow me up to my doom. That's a game the Greek skeptics worked out thousands of years ago. You can't win that one.

In other words - the standards of "proof" you seem to me to be demanding are useless in terms of the reality in which we live our lives.

ericb - yes, and there are differences too. Mainly extremely rapid transmission of ideas, and new collaborative tools - take Groove
posted by troutfishing at 7:48 PM on March 28, 2005


"Next up on CNN: the world outside--some say it's a howling void; others disagree" ; >
posted by amberglow at 7:51 PM on March 28, 2005


amberglow: The Charlotte Observer, in this case, WAS connecting the dots already, and so was Editor and Publisher, and both have larger readerships than any blog. It'd be nice to see the largest newspapers do that more often, but . . . well, I'm seeing this rabid anti-journalist thing filter down to the general public, and to younger people in general, and it's bothersome. SusanG of Daily Kos was, I believe, once a regular working newspaper reporter, right? So what's the deal with the constant painting of all media with one big brush?

Blogs, I think, would have more credibility as a form of media - and not be taken as a joke by people at the National Press Club - if they didn't go on and on about how they're revolutionary and so superior to the "MSM" and all. Let the work speak for itself, or shut up.
posted by raysmj at 7:55 PM on March 28, 2005


When I saw that first link, I thought "someone is linking Vox Day's blog (Vox Popoli) on Metafilter?!" but nothing so interesting.
posted by 445supermag at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2005


raysmj - you are mashing everything on the net into the hopper of "blogs". Is that fair ? Aren't there distinctions to be made ? And, are you referring to SusanG the person ? Or is she some linguistic signifier for the blogosphere and the Internet in general ?

Also - the work of the MSM has spoken for itself quite eloquently, or rather it has left an unmistakle odor of an early 20th century Chicago meat packing plant.

I could play the citation game to buttress my claims, or perhaps amberlow would be so kind as to pick up the slack. Oh yeah - E&P is a fine publication. I do respect their work. I like The Economist too.

________________


amberglow - Ya nevah know !

Evolution is on the way out. What's next - Gravity ? The Heliocentric solar system ?

I'm investing in the Four Humors. And in Phlogistan.

Unless the citizen-journalist calvalry gets here mighty quick.
posted by troutfishing at 8:07 PM on March 28, 2005


445supermag - too bad, but isn't Dunkin' Donuts coming out with a new lunch menu item, a Lox Boboli ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 PM on March 28, 2005


Blogs, I think, would have more credibility as a form of media....if they didn't go on and on about how they're revolutionary and so superior to the "MSM" and all.

Troutfishing, I agree. This brings to mind what Sean Bonner posted on his blog recently:

"Ze Frank who was on the 'Blogging Without Borders' panel with me at SXSW has a few (very few) words about the conference. He says:
'in one sentence: it felt like a bunch of surfers patting each other on the back, congratulating one another for pushing the waves closer to shore....'"
posted by ericb at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2005


Oh, come on, troutfishing. One of the blogs pointed out here as doing real journalism was americablog, and half of its whole thing is "MSM sucks" and there you go with the acrynym again too. And I want any good information I can get, whether it comes from "citizen journalists" or paid ones at the myriad regular publications that do great work. Or do you not like Seymour Hersh? Is anyone, whether in mainstream media or alternative papers or blogs or zines or whatever, doing work at his level, your hyperbolic comparison of the work of dailykos with that of Woodstein to the contrary notwithstanding?
posted by raysmj at 8:16 PM on March 28, 2005


Let the work speak for itself, or shut up.
How do you suggest the work get heard? It's not like any single blogger has a satellite or network of stations to disseminate the things they type, or a magazine to publish it in. It's far too easy to get information from the already established places--and you don't know if it's "good" or not--at least, you used to not know. It's because of the perceived failings of the regular media that a space has opened up, and a need filled. It stands to reason that it's pointed out a lot.

We also have a already established societal idea out there that the regular media is "liberal" and "biased". Countering that horribly mistaken notion is important. And that leads to where notions like that come from--a vast machine feeding (and endlessly repeating) talking points and frames and whatever you want to call it to the regular media. So there you go. I'd not knock bloggers for trashing the media. It's already been trashed. I think the discomfort and awkwardness the regular media has displayed concerning blogs says a lot.
posted by amberglow at 8:24 PM on March 28, 2005


ericb - indeed blogging is todays pamphletting -brings it back to Gore Vidal's closing paragraph;
Our first form of politics was pamphleteering in the 18th century. They serve a purpose--more pamphlets, more readers, more this, more that.
Article discussed here.
I don't think anyone is saying all MSM sucks only most of it.
With some notable exceptions.
As troutfishing says: No, that is not the blogosphere that now exists. But, that new model has been pioneered. It works.
posted by adamvasco at 8:25 PM on March 28, 2005


amberglow: And you don't think conservative sites are going on and on about the MSM too? The term MSM comes from them, doesn't it? How's this helping liberal ideas, exactly?
posted by raysmj at 8:28 PM on March 28, 2005


The attacks on the "MSM" instead fit an existing "liberal bias" frame, which is part of the reason you see more attention given to conservative blogs on CNN, etc.
posted by raysmj at 8:30 PM on March 28, 2005


so, how to get other voices heard? if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it....


connecting the dots like this is a start--the NYT couldn't have googled this guy's name? or lexis/nexis'd?
posted by amberglow at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2005


i guess: can't bloggers co-opt the MSM thing and use it for purposes of truth (and justice and the American way)?
posted by amberglow at 8:47 PM on March 28, 2005


troutfishing: raysmj - you are mashing everything on the net into the hopper of "blogs". Is that fair ? Aren't there distinctions to be made ? And, are you referring to SusanG the person ? Or is she some linguistic signifier for the blogosphere and the Internet in general ?

Given that most blogs are little more than personal diaries, don't you think that is a fair assessment?

amberglow: But some are, caddis--americablog, for one, and many others. It's all the connecting of the dots the regular media just doesn't do anymore. Whether you want to call it reporting or not, it's certainly revealing facts that haven't been revealed elsewhere.

Which is, pure and simple, bullshit. As of 11:25 pm EST, Americablog has a grand total of 1 link to a primary source. There are a handful of links to secondary sources, and the majority of links are to other opinion blogs. Now Americablog may be performing a service that had previously been filled by local editors and news producers, picking and choosing from a massive quantity of syndicated articles for publication and comment. But it does not seem to be doing much in terms of "revealing facts that haven't been revealed elsewhere."

Daily Kos is slightly better primarily citing secondary sources, and a Susan G article at the bottom providing a nice synthesis (although I still find her biography of Gannon to be disturbing, because she does not mention how she came by that information).

But for the most part, "current events blogs" appear to be little more than a noisy circle-jerk of people linking to blogs, that link to blogs, that link to blogs, that might, just possibly link to a secondary source, that might, just possibly, be relaying information from a primary source.

Now that might be a lot of things, it might even be good, but it certainly isn't journalism. In fact, I would argue that the news blogs are guilty of the worst trend in bringing information to the public, instead of summaries of primary sources, we are treated to the framed debates about the "issues," pundits going head to head, commentators offering "analysis," and snap opinion polls.

amberglow: And that leads to where notions like that come from--a vast machine feeding (and endlessly repeating) talking points and frames and whatever you want to call it to the regular media. So there you go.

And how does the blogosphere deal with that? Usually by uncritically propigating the talking points and frames that have been feed into the system elsewhere.

Certainly, there is some really good independent journalism out there. I'm just not seeing much of it happen in the blog format.

connecting the dots like this is a start--the NYT couldn't have googled this guy's name? or lexis/nexis'd?

Which again, is a bit of commentary that is entirely dependent on the work of other people collecting data from primary sources. I'm also having trouble seeing the relevance of Tierney's past in the NYT piece. Rick Lyman is not on the scene to put the motives and character of the protesters on trial, he is there to report the events of the protest.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2005


Raysmj - I disagree, and yet I agree too with a part of your critique which is about, as I see it, stereotyping.

What is the "blogosphere", or the "MSM" ? Very broad brush strokes, those.

As far as the attacks on the "MSM" coming from from "liberal bias", well : that is another broad brush attack. Why not stick to specific facts ? Still, the growing concentration of ownership of that "MSM" may justify the broad brush while the web - on the other hand - is extremely heterogenous.

Here's a nice take on the Gannon Guckert story ( I like it, at least, for my preexisting bias - sure ), courtesy of ATTYTOOD :

"One of the fascinating things about the "Jeff Gannon"/J.D. Guckert gay-hooker-turned-conservative-White-House-correspondent saga is that bloggers are doing the work that investigative reporters might once have done.

The reason for this is complicated -- for one thing, investigative reporting was never all that it was cracked up to be. Consider Watergate, in which a paid staffer of Nixon's campaign committee was caught orchestrating a break-in at Democratic headquarters -- and only two Metro reporters from the Washington Post stayed on the story.

That said, downsizing and cost-cutting in the news media -- especially newspapers, which are in a tailspin of declining circulation and revenue -- means that there are even fewer investigative reporters than in those not-so-halcyon days.

Bloggers are going in the opposite direction. With smaller staffs at bigger newspapers, mainstream journalists aren't allowed to miss "the big picture." But bloggers are liberated. If they so desire, dozens of bloggers can veer off onto "the small picture" story, delving into the facts that can produce a scandal and alter "the big picture" in the process."
posted by troutfishing at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2005


troutfishing: I said its easy for journalists to fit the whole "MSM" into an existing liberal bias frame, which is very different thing that saying term comes from it - or are you familiar with the idea of media framing? The whole "liberal bias" thing is something your typical journalist is used to hearing from conservatives, and so it's easy to associate the MSM talk with conservatism in general and not just particular conservative blog pundits, all the more so since the term "MSM" came from conservative blog pundits, according to my understanding.
posted by raysmj at 9:18 PM on March 28, 2005


I wouldn't have listened to Deep Throat if he hadn't been vetted by the Washington Post.

This statement actually gets to the crux of the matter for me. I used to feel this way, and still do to some degree. But, what blogs have taught me over the last few years is that the "vetting" that goes on by professional journalists is slim to nonexistent. Maybe it's changed since Watergate—I was a baby then.

But I have had pointed out to me, by blogs, enough instances of journalists abdicating responsibility to fact-check, failing to do any investigation, being duped, and just flat-out lying that I have learned that today's "vetting" by journalists is worthless.

Sure, sometimes what you get from a journalist may be vetted. But other times, it is pure horse-shit. And there is often no simple way to tell which is which.

Blogs do a great job of pointing out when something is fishy and connecting dots that journalists can be bothered to connect, even if they don't do actual "journalism" (whatever that is). Sure, you have to be aware of the bias on any given blog, but explicit bias, as one often finds on a blog, is much easier to deal with than implicit bias.
posted by teece at 9:23 PM on March 28, 2005


Rick Lyman is not on the scene to put the motives and character of the protesters on trial, he is there to report the events of the protest.
"on trial" is not what i mean, and you know it. There are existing and documented statements of violence and force throughout the rightwing world concerning the Schiavo ordeal--including many well-known people--Coulter, Bennett, George Will, etc--calling for force to be used to get the feeding tube put back in. You have an "intelligence expert" who was involved in torture in Iraq. hmmm...that doesn't raise any questions? You have Hal Turner down there. You have Randall Terry. You have Bo whateverhisname is... It's obvious that someone should be asking questions, no? If the NYT doesn't care, then what? We shouldn't either? We should read a blowjob to our "confident and impishly fun" president instead? It's laughable.
posted by amberglow at 9:25 PM on March 28, 2005


George Will called for the tube to be put back in? I got the idea that he found the whole circus appalling, and that what Congress and the president did was wrong. He also referred to the religious right as "extremists" on ABC's This Week over the holiday weekend.
posted by raysmj at 9:34 PM on March 28, 2005


More on Will's stance here.
posted by raysmj at 9:37 PM on March 28, 2005


troutfishing: As far as the attacks on the "MSM" coming from from "liberal bias", well : that is another broad brush attack. Why not stick to specific facts ? Still, the growing concentration of ownership of that "MSM" may justify the broad brush while the web - on the other hand - is extremely heterogenous.

I'm not seeing much criticism of the concentration of power though. What I'm seeing is a lot of hype about how blogs are revolutionizing journalism, while fundamentally dependent on the journalists they distain.

The problem is, doing something like attend city council meetings week after week is not nearly as fun as connecting the dots between stories courtesy of Google News.

Here's a nice take on the Gannon Guckert story ( I like it, at least, for my preexisting bias - sure ), courtesy of ATTYTOOD :

Another blog from which I can find no links to primary sources, and multiple links to other people's opinions.

teece: Sure, sometimes what you get from a journalist may be vetted. But other times, it is pure horse-shit. And there is often no simple way to tell which is which.

As oppsed to blogs which are almost always horse-shit, (frequently recycled)?

amberglow: "on trial" is not what i mean, and you know it. There are existing and documented statements of violence and force throughout the rightwing world concerning the Schiavo ordeal--including many well-known people--Coulter, Bennett, George Will, etc--calling for force to be used to get the feeding tube put back in. You have an "intelligence expert" who was involved in torture in Iraq. hmmm...that doesn't raise any questions? You have Hal Turner down there. You have Randall Terry. You have Bo whateverhisname is... It's obvious that someone should be asking questions, no? If the NYT doesn't care, then what? We shouldn't either?

"We shouldn't care" is not what I mean and you know it.

But I think is one of the reasons why the idea of blogs (in their current practice, and the examples presented in this discussion) replacing journalism is problematic. Reporters have an obligation in covering an event to stick as close to the facts as possible. Without some hard evidence that the players are there as part of a conspiracy to commit violence, you don't report that.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:37 PM on March 28, 2005


Also - breaking non-journalism ! ( OK, I'm a parrot for the moment ) National Press Club Welcomes Jeff "fake name, fake news service, fake Marine" Gannon !



"Published: March 28, 2005 Updated 3:50 PM ET

NEW YORK Jeff Gannon is back -- at the National Press Club?

Yes, the same day that the prestigious Washington, D.C., journalism organization plans to present a lunch talk by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, it will also allow the former White House reporter/sex site operator to be on a panel discussing bloggers and online journalism.

Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, resigned his job with the conservative Talon News last month after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to male escort Web sites.

Still, Press Club leaders will include Gannon on the panel April 8 that includes Wonkette.com editor Ana Marie Cox, National Journal's John Stanton, and others.

Gannon told E&P today that he always considered himself a legitimate journalist, and "perhaps their invitation is recognition of that."
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 PM on March 28, 2005


Now I know this is going to come up, so I'll head it off in advance. I'm not saying that the MSM is especially good, or should be trusted without a huge grain of salt.

What I am saying is that newsblogs are, to a large degree, part of the problem. What you don't see are alternative contacts with primary sources. What you don't see often is meta-analysis of an event as viewed through multiple media sources.

What you do see is almost always a selective reframing of a news piece (almost always from one of the top ten sources) to match a particular opinion.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:49 PM on March 28, 2005


Kirkjobsluder - Yeah, your criticism there is fine by me [ I wrote the following, below, to address your last comment.] and I agree. Still, there is real, independent journalism - indepedent contacts with primary sources - published on the web.

( Kirkjobsluder ) "What I'm seeing is a lot of hype about how blogs are revolutionizing journalism, while fundamentally dependent on the journalists they distain." - Well, that word "hype" there...

In fact the hype - true or not - is coming from the MSM, academia and bloggers alike. And, the Net's dependence on MSM journalists ebbs by the day and even more so as MS.M smears itself with Gannon.

Anyway, where would you hear talk of the concentration of media power? From the MSM ? Unlikely. For my part here, I posted a link to the CJR. But what good does criticism do anyway ? Better to build new media and displace the old than to criticize.

Meanwhile, I'll repeat - the SusanG example was of classic investigative journalism. Remember, too, the distinctions : that Attytood piece was clearly not non-partisan journalism. So why your criticism ?


Oh, and on the "horse shit" - well, the National Press Club has smeared itself quite thoroughly.
posted by troutfishing at 10:09 PM on March 28, 2005


What you do see is almost always a selective reframing of a news piece (almost always from one of the top ten sources) to match a particular opinion.

And this is exactly why I find blogs useful, KirkJobSluder. Good blogs do a provide their slant on things, and that's great. Believe it or not, I do actually have the ability to think rationally and make my own decision about the soundness of a given viewpoint. The trouble is, most media stories I read do not give enough information to make an informed decision—there is almost always some important bit of information left out. I find this information through blogs.

Yup, some blogs are full of shit. But, with an exposure to multiple sources, getting an actual picture of reality is much easier than it was when all I had access to was the media and a library. Which I didn't have time for.

But the other valuable service blogs have provided for me is a window into just how broken some segments of the media are. George Will, for example, mentioned above. That this man has a job at any media outlet, even as a pundit, is as stain on journalism's name. That scum-bag coached Reagan with a stolen Carter playbook before a presidential debate. He the went on to pretend to be an independent journalist and tell the world how Reagan had performed brilliantly and won the debates. And yet, he still has a job as an opinion journalist.

This kind of hypocrisy is not all that uncommon in American journalism.
posted by teece at 10:17 PM on March 28, 2005


teece: Are you kidding? No bloggers have worked for politicians, and reported lots of positive things about them or negative material about the competition, without letting on that they worked for said politicians?

Meanwhile, troutfishing, your regular reporter on the beat isn't to blame for media consolidation, and likely abhors it. Why not support more paid independent media, rather than non-paid imitative politics-of-rage punditry crap, or just single out good reporters more? Why not take the high road?
posted by raysmj at 10:31 PM on March 28, 2005


Hypocrisy is not really the word I wanted in that last sentence—incompetence is probably better.


raysmj:
Are you kidding? No bloggers have worked for politicians, and reported lots of positive things about them or negative material about the competition, without letting on that they worked for said politicians?

Not even close to the same league. Are you intentionally trying to obfuscate? A blogger's bias is obvious, and there is no pretense of impartiality. A what Will did went beyond bias. By a long shot.
posted by teece at 10:34 PM on March 28, 2005


troutfishing: Yeah, your criticism there is fine by me [ I wrote the following, below, to address your last comment.] and I agree. Still, there is real, independent journalism - indepedent contacts with primary sources - published on the web.

Finding it reliably is the big problem. You have to filter through a heck of a lot of hearsay to get to a singular fact from a primary source.

In fact the hype - true or not - is coming from the MSM, academia and bloggers alike. And, the Net's dependence on MSM journalists ebbs by the day and even more so as MS.M smears itself with Gannon.

I'm seeing no evidence of this. I've looked at every blog that you and amberglow have cited in this discussion, and out of about 40 odd stories that I've looked over, only two did not trace back to a major MSM source. That single article by SusanG, had many facts that were "untraceable" because the source was not specified, which leaves me unable to independently confirm her facts on that specific article.

Anyway, where would you hear talk of the concentration of media power? From the MSM ? Unlikely. For my part here, I posted a link to the CJR. But what good does criticism do anyway ? Better to build new media and displace the old than to criticize.

Well, actually it is something I've seen discussied in mainstream sources.

But aside from indymedia, who is building the new media? Americablog certainly isn't doing it. Daily Kos isn't doing it. Wonkette isn't doing it. Groklaw and perhaps Ars Technica might be doing it.

Meanwhile, I don't see that the old media is going away soon. As much as we like to bellyache about Gannon, the fact of the matter is that for every Gannon story, there are hundreds, if not thousands of cases where professional reporters get it (mostly) right, talking about things that in general are too booring for most people to sit through.

Meanwhile, I'll repeat - the SusanG example was of classic investigative journalism.

As an example of investigative journalism, I found it troubling the piece was written in such a way that I could not independently reconstruct her timeline.

Remember, too, the distinctions : that Attytood piece was clearly not non-partisan journalism. So why your criticism ?

I think my criticism is obvious. First of all, it is not reporting, it is criticism and opinion about another opinion. When I was reviewing the cite as a whole, I did not find a single link to a primary source of information, nor did I find much in the way of quotes that cited primary sources of information.

If you want to build new media to displace the old, you must do something more than provide opinion and commentary (and sometimes that is being generous). You have to start making access to primary sources. Until you can do that, then YOU are just another part of the process of spreading the horseshit around.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:41 PM on March 28, 2005


teece: And this is exactly why I find blogs useful, KirkJobSluder. Good blogs do a provide their slant on things, and that's great. Believe it or not, I do actually have the ability to think rationally and make my own decision about the soundness of a given viewpoint. The trouble is, most media stories I read do not give enough information to make an informed decision—there is almost always some important bit of information left out. I find this information through blogs.

Certainly. I think blogs are great for popularizing key articles. I don't think they are good as a source of information however. You have to plow through a heck of a lot of horseshit (in the form of hearsay and opinion) to get to the single kernel of new information that is out there. And almost always, that single kernel of new information comes from another MSM source.

Blogs are at their best when the provide "man on the street" reporting. Bloggers would do their readers a more valuable service by getting out of their desk chairs, and getting into the streets, the offices, and the archives.

Yup, some blogs are full of shit. But, with an exposure to multiple sources, getting an actual picture of reality is much easier than it was when all I had access to was the media and a library. Which I didn't have time for.

Actually, I find it to be the exact opposite. I find I get a much better picture about the news by spending one hour a week at the library. Then I get online for the reaction.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:49 PM on March 28, 2005


teece: There are several reported cases where the leanings were not so obvious. But if you're talking strictly ideology . . . George Will's ideological leanings aren't obvious? He's always been billed as a conservative commentator. It doesn't justify what he did with the debates, but neither can the cases I'm talking about. (See: the conservative campaign against Tom D. in S.D., and the partisan connections of anti-Rather bloggers, some of which weren't at all obvious, etc.)
posted by raysmj at 10:50 PM on March 28, 2005


If the majority of your links are to sources like the AP, the NYT, the Washington Post, the LA Times, with a nod here and there to the BBC, and the Guardian, then it really does not matter how critical you are in your text. You are still a part of the MSM hegemony.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:56 PM on March 28, 2005


What KJS said. All of it.
posted by mr.marx at 1:16 AM on March 29, 2005


George Carlin said in one of his bits 'kids are like any other group of people. A few winners, and a whole lot of losers.'

Replace 'kids' with whatever plural noun (bloggers? journalists?) you feel might be appropriate.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:24 AM on March 29, 2005


It is times like this that I recall Sturgeon's Law.
posted by Dagobert at 4:05 AM on March 29, 2005


stavros - yup.

kirkjobsluder - "That single article by SusanG, had many facts that were "untraceable" because the source was not specified, which leaves me unable to independently confirm her facts on that specific article." - Untraceable ? Or do you not have the knowledge and/or resources to trace them ? As far as I am aware, standard ( accepted ) investigative journalism often relies on sources that are, initially at least, not publicized in initial stories. But "untraceable" ? I suspect not.

"As an example of investigative journalism, I found it troubling the piece was written in such a way that I could not independently reconstruct her timeline" - Was that the timeline, one excerpted piece of which is below ? :

"The Absolutely Essential J.D. Guckert Timeline

June 1975: Graduates from Conneaut Lake High School.

1975-June 1980: Attends West Chester College (now West Chester University) and joins TKE fraternity. He is given #248 on the chapter member scroll.

August 1, 1980: Is awarded Instruction I teaching certficate in social studies by PA (PA Department of Education).

1980-mid-1980's: Works for landscape architect Herb Plankinton, meets Randy McFarland, future owner of Karmak.

1984: Lists "N.K.S. Distributors" as his employer in the TKE alumni directory.

1986-1987: Plays for a bar's team in the City of Brotherly Love Softball League (Philadelphia Gay News)

1991-1994: Earns income, fails to pay Delaware state income taxes.

October 18, 1996: Tax judgment filed for failure to pay Delaware state income tax over a multi-year period.

April 10, 1997:Bedrock Corp. incorporates in Delaware.

June 26, 1997: Car accident occurs that will result in lawsuit two years later, with Guckert and Diamond State Distributors listed as defendants. (Case No. 99C-06-215).

Late 1997: Viva Vino Imports hires Guckert as office manager.

March 1999: Gives notice at Viva Vino, continues working with old accounts there for a year or so.

April 1999: Starts working for Karmak as office manager.

August 31, 1999: First invoice for porn site. Name used is "Jeff." (Warning: link not work safe.)

September 27, 1999: GOPUSA.com registered (whois)

November 10, 1999: Guckert listed as "new" on a Philadelpha escort service, using the pseudonym "Lou".

February 23, 2000: Guckert's underwear photo uploaded to personal page at AOL......"

And so on. The timeline continues in that fashion, more damningly in the latter part of the timeline not excerpted here, but most of those facts cited seem to me to be quite traceable - provided one has the time to dig a bit, knock on a few doors....

I'm confused, really - are you mad that you don't have a 20-odd research team to independently verify each of those purported facts cited on the timeline ? And, when was the last time you "independently reconstructed" timelines implicit in investigative pieces by ( for example ) the superb Seymour Hersh ? The New York Times ?

It is credibility that is exactly the issue here, yes, and - as I've said - bloggers and citizen journalists do not have the institutional resources of the MSM, for the quite simple reason that they do yet not control big pipes ( TV, radio, etc. ) and so don't have access to substantial ad revenue.

But, the point of SusanG's group concerns - exactly - the creation of real investigative journalism via a workaround to the resources problem : massed, distributed volunteerism.

But if credibility is the issue, why spend your time excoriating bloggers and nascent citizen-journalist efforts and instead take the MSM to task for the demonstrated lack of objectivity on the part of even its flagship publications ?

For example, see : The Record of The Paper :

"n this meticulously researched study — the first part of a two-volume work — Howard Friel and Richard Falk demonstrate how the newspaper of record in the United States has consistently, over the last 50 years, misreported the facts related to the wars waged by the United States.

From Vietnam in the 1960s to Nicaragua in the 1980s and Iraq today, the authors accuse the New York Times of serial distortions. They claim that such coverage now threatens not only world legal order but constitutional democracy in the United States. Falk and Friel show that, despite numerous US threats to invade Iraq, and despite the fact that an invasion of one country by another implicates fundamental aspects of the UN Charter and international law, the New York Times editorial page never mentioned the words "UN Charter" or "international law" in any of its 70 editorials on Iraq from September 11, 2001, to March 20, 2003. The authors also show that the editorial page supported the Bush administration's WMD claims against Iraq, and that its magazine, op-ed and news pages performed just as poorly. "
( from publisher comments )

Also - on the Attytood piece - was I holding that up as investigative journalism ? I thought it was so obviously an editorial opinion that stating that was unecessary.

"I've looked at every blog that you and amberglow have cited in this discussion, and out of about 40 odd stories that I've looked over, only two did not trace back to a major MSM source." ( kirkjobsluder ) - If my intent had been to post examples of original investigstive journalism originating on the net and outside the MSM, I would have stated so, and quite clearly. You're playing a game which seems to me disengenuous and also rather similar to classical Greek skepticism.

Why not turn some of that energy away from the excoriation of blogs and emerging citizen journalism and towards those 800 pound gorillas who actually have sufficient resources, still, to do original research but who seem to have walked away from the responsibilities that come with such power ?

As a coda - eyes are migrating from TV and the radio to the web at a quite steady rate. Money, and resources, follow eyeballs and so the acquisition of greater resources, by emergent net journalists, is only a matter of time.
posted by troutfishing at 4:11 AM on March 29, 2005


It's really, really good to see you're back, troutfishing!
posted by acrobat at 4:21 AM on March 29, 2005


Kirkjobsluder - I did a writeup, a few months ago, on the Lancet/JHU Bloomberg School study on total Iraqi casualties from the recent invasion and occupation of that country.

The American and UK media coverage was generally worse than atrocious for the fact that few MSM sources covered that study and, of those, only a tiny handful got the basic facts of the research correct. One such publication was the estimable Economist.

The apparent bias in the MSM's failure to cover that study - and the subsequent atrocious sloppiness on the part of those few publications which eventually took up the Bloomberg School / Lancet research survey - amounted to yet another embarassing chapter of MSM bias and incompetence.

Further, the one other available benchmark of Iraqi casulties cited by the MSM ( the US military has stated a position that it "does not do body counts" ) was the "Iraqi Body Count" site. But to add to the embarassment, the MSM reporters - public radio journalists included - who cited that ( rather scrupulous and credible ) source failed to bother to read the context behind the "body count" numbers and so botched that citation too. They held the "Iraqi Body Count" site numbers up as definitive while the site authors state that their numbers are not definitive but merely collate that casualty data which is available from official sources and media accounts.

acrobat - thanks. I'll be rationing my commenting though.
posted by troutfishing at 4:33 AM on March 29, 2005


What I am saying is that newsblogs are, to a large degree, part of the problem. What you don't see are alternative contacts with primary sources. What you don't see often is meta-analysis of an event as viewed through multiple media sources.
The interview with Sgrena by Naomi Klein is just one example of alternative contacts with primary sources (and people trashed her because she's involved and not objective--clearly a primary source). Gannon's "interviews" with bloggers is another less worthy one. Senator Boxer's and others current and wannabe Senators' emails to Daily Kos are another. If you're thinking that blogs need to be spun by the same people the regular media is spun by, then what's the point? Do "senior Administration officials" need to email blogs with the latest talking points? I think the fact that people can now, in 2 seconds, call up an official statement/position previously published that completely belies any current statement/position by an official qualifies as meta-analysis. And when was the last time there was "meta-analysis viewed thru multiple media sources" anywhere but the Daily Show? None of the respected regular media does meta-analysis at all. They don't even look back to what they themselves had just published a week, month, or year ago--let alone what a competitor published.
posted by amberglow at 5:37 AM on March 29, 2005


"....Wharton legal studies professor Dan Hunter puts blogging right up there with the printing press when it comes to sharing ideas and disseminating information. "This is not a fad," says Hunter. "It's the rise of amateur content, which is replacing the centralized, controlled content done by professionals."

The growth rate of blogs is impressive. Technorati, a search engine that monitors blogs, tracked more than 8 million online diaries as of March 21, up from 100,000 just two years ago. A new blog is created every 7.4 seconds. That adds up to 12,000 new blogs a day, 275,000 posts a day and 10,800 updates an hour. "At its most basic level, it's a technology that is lowering the cost of publishing" and turning out to be "the next extension of the web," says Wharton legal studies professor Kevin Werbach. "Blogging is still in its early days. It's analogous to where the web was in 1995 and 1996. It's not clear how it will turn out."

What is clear is that opportunities for blogging abound."
posted by troutfishing at 5:52 AM on March 29, 2005


What is wrong about MSM - Judith Miller types

What is great abot blogs - Billmon types

Blogging is good. Corporate whoring is bad.

[keeping it simple!]

Thanks for the post trout!
posted by nofundy at 6:09 AM on March 29, 2005


From gesamtkunstwerk's link:

Gannon told E&P today that he always considered himself a legitimate journalist, and "perhaps their invitation is recognition of that."

hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Wait, I'm not done...

hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Either he's a complete moron, or he has a self-deprecating sense of humor... maybe he should go back to having sex for money.
posted by clevershark at 6:53 AM on March 29, 2005


Technorati, a search engine that monitors blogs, tracked more than 8 million online diaries as of March 21, up from 100,000 just two years ago. A new blog is created every 7.4 seconds. That adds up to 12,000 new blogs a day, 275,000 posts a day and 10,800 updates an hour.

The most read of which in re to politics are? The blogs of established freelance political journalists such as Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall and Mickey Kaus, right-wing free-for-alls with info as dubious and spin-happy as anything George Will or mainstream pundits ever provided, and also, in connection with this, blogs such as instapundit, which consist mostly of links to mainstream sources and commentary along the lines of "good one."

Meanwhile, a Columbia Journalism Review sum-up of the problems with the reporting of both the blogs and CBS, and the not-so-well-known partisan connections of right-wing bloggers is found here.

I support alternative media, including blogs, but the hype is impossibly annoying (and I remember reading bloggers attack alternative papers along with mainstream sources, as being one of the things blogs were revolt against. OK). Speaking of which, the Daily Show's not a blog. The Daily Show's a TV show. And his ideas about "hurting America" apply to a lot of blogs too, especially those that come off as Spawn of Crossfire.
posted by raysmj at 7:02 AM on March 29, 2005


troutfishing: It is credibility that is exactly the issue here, yes, and - as I've said - bloggers and citizen journalists do not have the institutional resources of the MSM, for the quite simple reason that they do yet not control big pipes ( TV, radio, etc. ) and so don't have access to substantial ad revenue.

And from one of the links in the FPP how do you establish credibility? Through transparency of sources. What I'm asking for is not so difficult, for example:

1991-1994: Earns income, fails to pay Delaware state income taxes.

How is this known? Even something as simple as, "Contact at Delaware Department of Revenue," or "public records." Neither anonymous sources or uncited sources should be considered to be credible.

Why not turn some of that energy away from the excoriation of blogs and emerging citizen journalism and towards those 800 pound gorillas who actually have sufficient resources, still, to do original research but who seem to have walked away from the responsibilities that come with such power ?

Because, that is not a claim that is really open for debate. A claim that is open for debate is that newsblogs are consistently providing a better alternative to the MSM. I find that the current state of newsblogs is even more dismal that the current state of the news media, with an overabundance of "opinion" and "comment" and not much grit in there. It does not matter if you nail a Jeff Gannon or forged Bush memo twice a year, if you miss 90% of what goes through city hall.

amberglow: The interview with Sgrena by Naomi Klein is just one example of alternative contacts with primary sources (and people trashed her because she's involved and not objective--clearly a primary source). Gannon's "interviews" with bloggers is another less worthy one. Senator Boxer's and others current and wannabe Senators' emails to Daily Kos are another.

The first two, happen rarely. As for the latter, when I worked in a newsroom, one of my jobs was to empty the fax machine of the daily press releases published by our elected officials. The fact that some large blogs are getting onto the PR lists does not say much.

Once again, you cite a specific blog as a great example of an alternative to MSM, but every time I go there, 90% of what happens there can be traced back to MSM. In what way is this independence or a radically new form of journalism?

If you're thinking that blogs need to be spun by the same people the regular media is spun by, then what's the point? Do "senior Administration officials" need to email blogs with the latest talking points?

Have you stopped beating your partner today?

I would say that to a large degree, blogs are spun by the same people as the regular media. This is unavoidable when 90% of your content is built on a handful of MSM media sources.

If blogs are going to be more than a social echo-chamber of glorified self-promoting letters to the editor they need to do more than just comment on the MSM they claim to replace. What I'm suggesting is that we need more Satan's Laundromat and fewer pundits in the field. What we need are people willing to sit through tedious public meetings and reading draft bills rather than skimming Google News, and posting whenever their blood pressure rises.

Adding your two bits of opinion to an article about Schiavo does very little to help the public. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes, everyone has them. What would be a productive conversation would be some analysis about whether this case would happen in your state or community. What do hospice workers where you live think? What are the guardianship laws like elsewhere?

I'll repeat it again because you seemed to have missed it the first time, if 90% of your content consists of links to a handful of big media sources, then you are just another part of the MSM hegemony. You can't claim to be a radically new media, when you are still bottom-feeding off the old.

raysmj: I support alternative media, including blogs, but the hype is impossibly annoying (and I remember reading bloggers attack alternative papers along with mainstream sources, as being one of the things blogs were revolt against. OK).

Well, yeah. Ok, here is an example of a public service that papers do very well and blogs do badly: the arts and entertainment calendar. Certainly I could skim as many as two-dozen different websites to find out what is going on, or I can skim a few pages of a newspaper (most frequently obtained free) while eating my morning bagel.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2005


Of course if the MSM had any brains they would be making real use of the army of bloggers. Here you have a huge number of relentless individuals with a diversity of skills, sometimes experts in particular fields, that can swarm and conquer individual questions. Why not have someone who knows they are going to be interviewing a newsmaker on Friday use the underground blog army to generate background data and compose meaningful questions? (I can think of one reason -- if you really put people on the spot your show would be avoided by the guests). Even Sherlock Holmes had his Baker Street irregulars.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2005


raysmj: Speaking of which, the Daily Show's not a blog. The Daily Show's a TV show.

Are you referring to Amberglow's comment? Because that's nearly the opposite of what was said:

And when was the last time there was "meta-analysis viewed thru multiple media sources" anywhere but the Daily Show? None of the respected regular media does meta-analysis at all. They don't even look back to what they themselves had just published a week, month, or year ago--let alone what a competitor published.

Amberglow makes a great point - that some blogs can fill in the gaps where the mainstream media fails. The Daily Show was cited as an example of one that does some of this meta-analysis in spite of what the rest of the media is doing. Amberglow's comment doesn't say anything at all like "the Daily Show is a blog." At all.

My apologies if you were referring to another comment.

To me, blogs can fill a void that the mainstream media has created in the last 10-15 years of media consolidation. raysmj, I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but also with what others are saying. It seems to me that you are being very absolute in your condemnation of blogs, when in reality they should be judged on a case by case basis. Many are crap, like most of the things on Livejournal. But out of those "8 million online diaries as of March 21" there is a good chance that someone, somewhere, is writing something good. I do not have 8 million choices for TV news, so the criticism of the mainstream media rings true to me. I only get a few TV stations, the networks, and their coverage of issues is frequently incomplete. Furiously incomplete - so incomplete I can't come to an opinion on my own, as there is not enough information in the "news report" to do so. More frequently today, there will be a story making the rounds and after reading reports online, I will see the same story that night on the news. Minus a number of interesting facts, usually.

The most important part, I think, is that there are only a few TV networks, but there can be infinite blogs. That equals infinite possibility in my mind. Certainly it could equal infinite amounts of crap, too. But having seen the Internet progress quite a bit since the early 90s, I think blogs will turn out like websites have. Which is to say, there will be a lot of them, and some will be great and some will be OK and most will be useless. But the great ones will be really great and will make it all worth it.

KirkJobSluder: Once again, you cite a specific blog as a great example of an alternative to MSM, but every time I go there, 90% of what happens there can be traced back to MSM. In what way is this independence or a radically new form of journalism?

In my opinion, this isn't independence or a radically new form of journalism. But it is interesting, and it's a new way to get information. It doesn't have to be independent on its first day or its first year, it doesn't have to be radical right off the bat. I'm OK supplementing my varied media diet with a course of blog. I guess a lot of these terms are just too absolute to me. Blogs don't have to be everything to me today; just like every link on metafilter doesn't have to be the Best of the Web to me. If there are a few interesting things, I will supplement my media diet a bit by visiting this site or that site.

Also, regarding the independence issue, it seems to me to be a lot like the issue with P2P networks. Is 90% or maybe even 99% of the media there produced and marketed through traditional channels? Yes! And coopted by the P2Pers and illegally redistributed. But it's also a way for a smaller band to distribute their own music. Maybe it's not good music, but it doesn't have to be better than everything for me to consider adding it to my diet of music. And every year, I would bet, we see more and more music released online, by P2P supporting bands, completely outside the current music paradigm. Some of these may grow to be the next great bands for the next generation.

I think blogs are a bit farther along than the music industry in this sense. Far enough that we have outliers, Really Good Bloggers who actually investigate, but mostly it's rehashed mainstream media stuff. Sometimes with commentary. Sometimes good commentary. And sometimes good commentators work for a year or two commenting in their spare time, and get to be great commentators. Thankfully, there is room for all kinds, and room to grow if you are able. That's why blogs are interesting to me. There is no room for you on NBC, for large values of "you."

Sorry for the length!
posted by drstupid at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2005


well said, drstupid
posted by amberglow at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2005


drstupid: Furiously incomplete - so incomplete I can't come to an opinion on my own, as there is not enough information in the "news report" to do so. More frequently today, there will be a story making the rounds and after reading reports online, I will see the same story that night on the news. Minus a number of interesting facts, usually.

But again, how can blogs add to your understanding to the issue when they almost never provide information that did not originate from a MSM source, and almost always add an additional layer of bias to filter through?

I guess a lot of these terms are just too absolute to me.

I don't see where you get that given that I've included examples of blogs that I think are doing the right thing by not partially digesting and vomiting up MSM pieces for a bunch of screaming little birds.

It's worthwhile examining the things that blogs do well, and the things that blogs do badly:

Things that newsblogs do well:
* Popularizing stories in the MSM.

* Providing alternative avenues for opinion about stories.

* Linking between different versions of a story.

Things that newsblogs do badly:
* Routine coverage of political institutions. Most of what goes on in a government is booring as shit. But it is still something that needs to be covered and summarized.

* Putting people at the scene of events. Bloggers are not listening to the scanners, ready to get photos of the big fire, pile-up or robbery.

* Interviews with key stakeholders. Newsblogs are not going to have much impact if their "hard questions" are just rhetorical to their audience.

And going back a bit:
amberglow: And when was the last time there was "meta-analysis viewed thru multiple media sources" anywhere but the Daily Show?

This is really interesting to me. John Stewart went onto Crossfire, called them out as partisan hacks who are hurting America by offering up pre-packaged framed debates in a debate format. However, the basic fact is, the newsblogs cited as "good" by you and troutfishing here have much more in common with Crossfire than the independent investigative journalism you claim is necessary as an alternative.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2005


I think that's your opinion. I'd say bloggers are far more like the Daily Show, pointing out the inconsistencies, hypocrisy, and insanity of both politics, the wider world, and the MSM.

Crossfire never challenges any statement made--no matter how laughable, or factchecks anything--blogs do so continuously, for just one big difference.
posted by amberglow at 1:02 PM on March 29, 2005


Just because some blogs have an aggressive tone doesn't make them just like Crossfire.
posted by amberglow at 1:03 PM on March 29, 2005


"....how can blogs add to your understanding to the issue when they almost never provide information that did not originate from a MSM source, and almost always add an additional layer of bias to filter through?" -

There are two elements here : 1) original research and investigation - the question of how derivative of the MSM blogs are, and 2) your claim that blogs "almost always add an additional layer of bias" : that 2nd claim is, to be sure, often true but I'd assert that internet blogging ang journalism can sometimes strip away or correct for existing MSM bias.

My claim, as with your counter claim, cannot be proven.

As for the first assertion, I'd say it's a question of percentage which no one here on this conversation has actual empirical knowledge - even rough - about.

Salon does some original investigative journalism ( as far as I'm aware ), does it not ? In fact, I could cite a long roster of journalists who have been drummed out of the MSM - for being too troublesome - but who still do some original work as time and resources allow.

Are those journalists "bloggers" ? They have the professional training and know the biz.

Once again, the question merely comes back, in my mind, to resources. The resources of the MSM and of bloggers, or of citizen journalists, are simply not comparable, not even remotely so, and so your comparisons and criticisms seem to me to obscure as much or more than they reveal.

A useful analogy here might be too liken the MSM to a herd of elephants and the bloggers and internet journalists to an immense swarm of hungry, biting ants.

Those elephants will rampage to and fro, crushing a vast number of ants, as the insects ascend up the pakidermal legs to nip through hides or crawl into ears.

Sooner or later - and it may take a very long time - those ants will prevail.

My analogy is just that - an anology and so very imperfect - but in the end, I suspect, the elephants and the biting ants will come, at least, some sort of rough compromise as those ants gradually swell up on advertising revenue, philanthropic funding, and other pecuniary sources.

Nip ! nip nip ! They're everywhere, those ants.
posted by troutfishing at 1:15 PM on March 29, 2005


amberglow: Crossfire never challenges any statement made--no matter how laughable, or factchecks anything--blogs do so continuously, for just one big difference.

How can blogs "factcheck" anything in the MSM without any facts? Almost always the best blogs offer is showing that one MSM source disagrees with another MSM source.

And for the most part, most blog posts are little more than "whee, look at this cool news story, isn't this stupid!". There really isn't much in terms of "challenge" going on.

Just because some blogs have an aggressive tone doesn't make them just like Crossfire.

It's not just the aggressive tone. It's the almost complete dependence on quoted soundbites from major news sources, wrapped uncritically into a party-line frame, and presented with a spoonful of fake "new media" rhetoric on top, that makes them a lot like Crossfire.

It's just baffling to me that you don't see it since you seem to be a pretty smart guy. It is as plain as the sanserifed font on the pages.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:28 PM on March 29, 2005


Why thanks, but i see things that have been dug up--things that should have been reported in the regular media, but weren't. I see things that are ignored by the regular media, or only printed in one local paper, or on a messageboard like IndyMedia. I see how every day we're lied to, and those lies aren't corrected or even challenged by the regular media. I see a President with the worst public opinion since Nixon, yet who repeatedly gets fawning pieces in the NYT, a supposedly "liberal" paper. I see a war based on lies--lies repeatedly told us by that media, and no airtime given to opposing views. I see closed and restricted propaganda sessions presented as open cross-country barnstorming to "save Soc. Security" ...
posted by amberglow at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2005


troutfishing: There are two elements here : 1) original research and investigation - the question of how derivative of the MSM blogs are, and 2) your claim that blogs "almost always add an additional layer of bias" : that 2nd claim is, to be sure, often true but I'd assert that internet blogging ang journalism can sometimes strip away or correct for existing MSM bias.

Sometimes is a hard sell. You seem to be comparing an idealized state of newsblogging with a flawled realistic view of MSM, while I'm comparing actual flaws of newsblogs (the blogs you have cited in this discussion) with actual flaws of MSM. A better description what is actually happening is not sometimes but almost never.

As for the first assertion, I'd say it's a question of percentage which no one here on this conversation has actual empirical knowledge - even rough - about.

Actually, my claim is based on emprical knowledge in that, having reviewed the blogs you cited, I found only two posts that referenced non-opinion primary sources. That's 2 out of approximately 40 posts, or about 5%.

Salon does some original investigative journalism ( as far as I'm aware ), does it not ? In fact, I could cite a long roster of journalists who have been drummed out of the MSM - for being too troublesome - but who still do some original work as time and resources allow.

Certainly, however, I would not classify Salon as anywhere close to a newsblog.

A useful analogy here might be too liken the MSM to a herd of elephants and the bloggers and internet journalists to an immense swarm of hungry, biting ants.

Those elephants will rampage to and fro, crushing a vast number of ants, as the insects ascend up the pakidermal legs to nip through hides or crawl into ears.


Where as I would say that the analogy is more one of an ecological symbiosis. The elephants produce a fair amount of shit, and the ants make their living off of that shit. For all the rhetoric the ants invoke, they are not doing much to attack the elephants, directing thousands of readers every day to MSM websites and pages.

Again, the bottom line that you refuse to acknowledge, if 90%+ of your content is derived from MSM, then claiming to be at war with those elephants is nothing more than self-serving (and delusional) rhetoric. In their current form, blogs are just another part of the MSM hegenomy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2005


amberglow: Why thanks, but i see things that have been dug up--things that should have been reported in the regular media, but weren't. I see things that are ignored by the regular media, or only printed in one local paper, or on a messageboard like IndyMedia.

1) If you had read my earlier messages, I pointed out that IndyMedia is one of the few exceptions to rule.
2) If you had read my earlier messages, I also pointed out that one of the things that newsblogs are good is directing people to under-reported stories of interest.
3) When did local papers suddenly stop being "regular media"?

The problem is that you are selling this big lie that weblogs are "independent," when they are not, along with the big lie that weblogs are "honest" when they are not.

If you subject most newsblogs to the same standards you apply to the MSM, they fail miserably on every single standard of accuracy and objectivity. They don't have to be this way, but they are.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:53 PM on March 29, 2005


kjs: But again, how can blogs add to your understanding to the issue when they almost never provide information that did not originate from a MSM source, and almost always add an additional layer of bias to filter through?

Well, here's just one example: The Terry Schiavo thing. This morning on the news (a local TV morning show that does news & weather, not national though) they have been covering the Schiavo thing like everyone else. Routinely they say things that are just factually wrong, though. Like that Mr. Schiavo has "chosen to have his wife killed." They actually used those words. It was only a few words, but there are at least two things I know of that are wrong with that statement:

1) He did not decide that. He chose, and Florida law allows him to, ask the courts to decide based on the evidence. So Mr. Schiavo hasn't actually chosen that she should die, he has let the courts decide that she would not want to live any longer and agreed to abide by their decision. From my understanding they essentially have a trial and hear the evidence and come to a decision as if it were a court case. That's just my memory speaking, though.

2) She is not going to be killed, she is going to have a feeding tube removed. To kill someone would be to administer a life-ending dose of medication, or something along those lines, but halting the force-feeding of someone isn't killing them. Not legally, anyway. (I'm not a lawyer.) They can't legally kill her, that's why they go the "brutal" way of starving her. (I don't think it's particularly brutal, but it's been described that way. A life-ending dose of medication would be quicker, but that is not an option legally.)

These are nitpicky things. But it frames the debate that happens on local news and national news too. I learned these two things online. Some of them from blogs, and yes maybe from regular newspapers or magazines online. But, in my mind, it doesn't matter if I learned it from a link in a Metafilter comment to a small paper in Charlestown, TN, or from CNN or from a blogger or whoever.

It's not that blogs are necessarily better truth-tellers than the news, but just that there is more opportunity for facts to come up if you have a variety of sources. And with those variety of sources comes one of the conflicts here - that one person can say "Blogs don't fact check" and someone else can say "Blogs act as a fact checker for the mainstream media." It could be different blogs. Lots of them are crap, but some are good. In the end if a blog leads me to a commentator who I find interesting or an article in a small newspaper I wouldn't have otherwise found, that's valuable to me. It doesn't matter to me that the blogger didn't write the article.

Some blogs can function as media filters, by finding articles I might not have otherwise seen; others can be personal diaries and others still can try for investigative journalism. I think that last one's hardest, which is why I object to the idea that blogs are not useful because they didn't appear fully-formed into the media ecosystem. Some of them can grow into it. Some are working there, but they might not be there yet.

One other thing I don't think was mentioned yet. This is how blogs can inform you. This, right here, what we're doing right now. Talking about these issues. There are probably a dozen people reading for each one posting, each forming an opinion based on our reasoning. KJS, you keep complaining about the lack of primary sources, which on the whole I agree with. But there is a lot of original writing online - a crippling, unreadable amount. I don't need to be quoting Congressional records to be a primary source - some of us can just reason out positions on issues and talk about it with other people, modify those positions, and think about issues. That's really the best part, to me.

In their current form, blogs are just another part of the MSM hegenomy.

I think there is value in collecting mainstream sources together, filtering out the chaff, and offering readers the articles you've enjoyed. If you keep doing that (reading about the same topic regularly) you start to understand the topic better and you can point out flaws. With news reporting as dismal as it is today, I think this is valuable. If eventually there is an investigative journalist who reports solely via blog, that's great. But I don't really need professional bloggers around to make it worthwhile for me to read blogs. None of you are professional MeFi commenters (I hope) but I keep reading what you all write :)
posted by drstupid at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2005


I think there is value in collecting mainstream sources together

Exactly. This is a function I'm not seeing discussed much here. It's not in KJS's list of things newsblogs do well, and yet it's a great portion of what the bloggers in the main link have done, and what the mainstream media so often (and certainly in this case) fails to do. Just as a recent f'rinstance, billmon connected the dots on this character, leading one of Atrios' commenters to look more into it and find a whole host of background that puts his original sob-story appearance in the press into a completely different perspective. Yes, they were essentially accessing mainstream sources rather than expending shoe leather, but they did it, and the MSM didn't. And the MSM's not doing it resulted in bias - undeclared, which is much more troublesome than bloggers' bias-on-their-sleeves.

And as for this...

Bloggers are not listening to the scanners, ready to get photos of the big fire, pile-up or robbery.

Actually, this is not true: They may not listen to scanners, but they often get the job done when it counts. Especially in big natural disasters, everyday people posting pictures to their blogs have, in collaboration, outdone the big boys with their high-tech cameras and satellite uplinks. But even if the MSM could count this in their column... is being able to stand at the scene of a fire and say "here I am" a useful gauge of worthwhile journalism?
posted by soyjoy at 2:37 PM on March 29, 2005


drstupid: My comment re the "Daily Show," was: You're arguing in favor of blogs and what they do that mainstream media doesn't do, and the effects of consolidation and all, and then you bring up the Daily Show. I didn't even mention that the Daily Show is produced by one of those mega-conglomerates, and I wasn't out of line to point out that, although it's an alternative form of media - albeit fake media, far too often and frightfully only nominally, but still fake - but it's not a blog, or somehow directly aligned with the majority of political bloggers. You're arguing in favor of blogs, show me what blogs are doing, what sets the mass of them apart from what I can read now.

Look, I love a lot of blogs, but most are rage-filled suckiness. By contrast, the Daily Show's thing has become, in part, context through humor, or context as humor. And much humor, including that brand, is driven by rage, just rage channeled in different direction than what you see in the predominant form of political punditry that's out there. I'd read more blogs if they were so entertaining or at least sometimes so, but almost nobody outside the the Poor Man takes such a route, that I'm aware of. What we get now is mostly rage, and rage full of cliches and annoying acronyms - with the occasional gem, if you look hard enough.

I'd like to see more humor, meanwhile. But would I do it? No. I'm not writing that much if I'm not getting paid, despite how I write on here. MeFi's different. And I'm not covering events if I'm not getting paid, or taking hours to do research. Will. Not. Happen. And I think what you're going to find in the future is: a) The top bloggers will get paid, as most already are in some way, or b) Those who aren't getting paid directly will being getting money under the table, or have a day job connected to politics and what they're writing about, although they may not tell you so. This is happening already too.
posted by raysmj at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2005


soyjoy: What do you mean "resulted in bias." Usually, you'd have the bias beforehand. That's how bias's work. I think you'd call this work done on the spot, without much background work. But maybe the reporter was under pressure to finish a story up, and then was pressured to go on to something else? This isn't bias, but a procedural and management failure.
posted by raysmj at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2005


And, finally, if you'll read the CJR story I posted earlier, you'll find that the mainstream media didn't connect the dots in regard to the partisan connections of anti-Rather bloggers either. It was a momentary fixation, then on to the next thing. A 24-hour news cycle thing in a story to which the role of blogs was central.
posted by raysmj at 2:56 PM on March 29, 2005


The "media" of today is a much different animal now than in the past.
Blogs have no need of "creating shareholder value" and can be fairly compared to the pamphleting of Tom Paine.
Even if blogs do reference MSM very often, it's because the damn lazy corporate whores fail to do a decent job of covering and investigating important issues.
Someone NEEDS to point out their failings. Any argument that criticizes blogs for holding MSM accountable fails miserably in my view.
If corporate media did a better job then there would be less need for independent fact checking and investigation. It's not the blogs that need accountability, it's the corporate whores.
posted by nofundy at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2005


it results in a biased, one-sided picture of any given issue, ray. Saying "chosen to have his wife killed" is just as much opinion as you'd find on any blog, except it's not a blog--it's a newscast millions of people watch and accept as a good source of the news. It's not based on fact, or medical or legal judgement or anything--it's a pro-life, morally-based way of phrasing something that's already overwhelmed with opinion and spin. People need facts, not that newscaster's spin devoid of facts. Bloggers have uncovered so many facts and objective truth these past few years--far far more than have been told us in the regular media, sadly.

Just the other day i finally saw someone (a rabbi) tell CNN--on CNN--that showing those video snippets of Terri over and over and over and over demean her dignity as a person more than any political wrangling might--it surprised me, but you know what? the anchor said, "thank you" and then they immediately went to another little video snippet of her. There's no room for things that don't fit the narratives they set up--true or not--but there's room in blogs.

I think some of you throw the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by amberglow at 3:16 PM on March 29, 2005


drstupid: It could be different blogs. Lots of them are crap, but some are good. In the end if a blog leads me to a commentator who I find interesting or an article in a small newspaper I wouldn't have otherwise found, that's valuable to me. It doesn't matter to me that the blogger didn't write the article.

Certainly. I think that blogs happen to be excellent filters and are extremely useful in that capacity. However, as filters my view is that blogs are too dependent on MSM to really serve as an "alternative" to it.

Some blogs can function as media filters, by finding articles I might not have otherwise seen; others can be personal diaries and others still can try for investigative journalism. I think that last one's hardest, which is why I object to the idea that blogs are not useful because they didn't appear fully-formed into the media ecosystem. Some of them can grow into it. Some are working there, but they might not be there yet.

Well, I think there you are attacking an argument that I'm not really making here. I'm not disagreeing that blogs are useful. I think they are quite good as filters to direct people to information that otherwise would not be broadly published. What I disagree with are the claims that newsblogs are objective and independent replacements to MSM.

You can't have it both ways. You can't claim to be an independent new form of journalism, and draw more than 90% of your content from a handful of big media sources. I don't mind the claim that newsblogs help people be better consumers of MSM, but I don't see that newsblogs are in any position to replace it yet, nor do I see much more than a lot of yapping and rhetoric about their potential to replace it.

soyjoy: It's not in KJS's list of things newsblogs do well,...

It's there, read again.

Yes, they were essentially accessing mainstream sources rather than expending shoe leather, but they did it, and the MSM didn't. And the MSM's not doing it resulted in bias - undeclared, which is much more troublesome than bloggers' bias-on-their-sleeves.

I think (and I say this having worked in a newsroom) that the bias is more due to a lack of time rather than anything systemic or political. Almost all news reports are rushed and on deadline, so spending time on background checks when "the story" is about protesters at a hospice and not a biography of a single person is pretty hard to justify.

So of course, it is great that bloggers, as I pointed out, are able to make connections between stories. But that does not make them "independent" from the MSM they claim to distain.

Actually, this is not true: They may not listen to scanners, but they often get the job done when it counts. Especially in big natural disasters, everyday people posting pictures to their blogs have, in collaboration, outdone the big boys with their high-tech cameras and satellite uplinks.

Certainly, I think the autobiographical efforts of bloggers are invaluable contributions. But I don't often see an eywitness report that goes beyond just the personal experience.

But even if the MSM could count this in their column... is being able to stand at the scene of a fire and say "here I am" a useful gauge of worthwhile journalism?

I would say that it is. If I'm driving and see a thick plume of smoke, I want to know what happened, how much damage was caused, if anyone was hurt, and if it will disrupt my access to any other errands I need to run.

Which gets to one of my points that MSM does well, covering things that are booring and routine but still need to be covered. Which streets are closed, what was decided at the last school board meeting, library board meetings, utility board meetings, who died, who got a lifetime achievement award, what new resturaunts opened, concert reviews, movie reviews, police reports, jury selection (the black hole in every trial that the dramas just skip).

For every Gannon and Bush memo, there are a thousand less sexy stories that don't reach the blogosphere.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:22 PM on March 29, 2005


nofundy: Blogs have no need of "creating shareholder value" and can be fairly compared to the pamphleting of Tom Paine.

Certainly. But pamphleting is not journalism and didn't pretend to be journalism. All I'm asking for is a bit of honesty here. Is it really too much to ask that newsbloggers who are critical of the MSM either make it explicitly clear the relationships they have with the MSM, or seek out alternative media sources to cite and link to?

amberglow: People need facts, not that newscaster's spin devoid of facts. Bloggers have uncovered so many facts and objective truth these past few years--far far more than have been told us in the regular media, sadly.

Um, why is the spin of a newsblogger, plundering the NYT, NYP, Boston Globe and AP for "facts" more trustworthy? So far, all of the examples of "facts" uncovered in this discussion have involved quotes from the MSM.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:33 PM on March 29, 2005


amberglow: I think some of you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I don't know. In what way is pointing out that blogs exist in a symbiotic relationships with MSM throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

In what way is pointing out that blogs are very good at some things (but not journalism) throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And, how is arguing that the content of blogs should be critically examined for a large number of biases, including dependence on MSM sources, all that outrageous?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:38 PM on March 29, 2005


KirkJobSluder :

You keep citing my links as if I had held them up to rebut your point that you keep hammering away at. But, you seem to be on the wrong thread, in a sense.

The thread you want to be on would have asked - at the onset - about the extent to which blog journalism was derivative of MSM reporting.

In fact, I assumed at the onset of this thread that most blog writing IS derivative of the MSM right now, but that some change is in fact possible.

But your absolutist claims - that virtually no blog writing breaks new ground and that almost all blogs are crap - seem disengenuous to me, especially when coupled with your other tactic, evidenced in the case of the one example of valid internet journalism I did actually try to hold up ( my other links had little to do with that ) - Salon - was invalid because Salon isn't a blog.

Blogs crap unless they are valid, and if they are valid they are not blogs ?

Let me ask you this - what do you think a blog is ?

It occurs to me that I'm not talking about blogs. I'm talking about citizen journalism on the net. And maybe you should be too. That's more uplifting than harping on crap.

You can - of course - always choose to evade me quite handily : even if you concede the validity of this or that individual effort, you can simply define away the example ( "oh, well that's an internet newspaper" ) or, even better, simply assert that all examples you deem to be valid are in then rightly considered as part of the MSM.

So : all blogs are crap?

Well then, fine. I'm not talking about blogs. I'm talking about efforts which are not crap, which do real investigative journalism and which produce a quality project. Hence - in your mind I suspect - not blogs at all.

The best example of true citizen journalism I know of, currently, is OhMyNews, which is clearly not crap, nor is it a blog. It is supported, however, by 35,000 citizen journalists who create most of the content : so, it's different from, say, DailyKos how ? Oh yes - it has a team of paid editors. That's it.

The model may be unique to South Korean culture, but it does indeed work.

Let's move on from blogs. My post did not concern them in the first place, and so your jeremiads are misplaced.

Why not just do a post on why most blogs suck ? I wouldn't contest you. I might even join in the mudlsinging, just for the hell of it. otherwise, you'll merely be playing tautological and sematic games.

As someone noted on this very thread eons ago, 90% of everything under the Sun tends to be crap.

Well, so what ? I defined the conversation from the outset - though you haven't yet noticed - as the realm of "not crap", as in : how do we get there, to the realm of not crap ? You seem to be fixated on the crap though, and I think that's unecessary
posted by troutfishing at 3:41 PM on March 29, 2005


For every Gannon and Bush memo, there are a thousand less sexy stories that don't reach the blogosphere.
Like all the budget cuts in the new budget--for Medicare, Veterans, people with Brain Injuries, the poor, children...That's pretty much only been covered in the blogosphere to my knowledge, and not sexy at all, yet relevant.

And, how is arguing that the content of blogs should be critically examined for a large number of biases, including dependence on MSM sources, all that outrageous?
Because dependence on other sources is not at all any sort of bias. Other sources are a resource to be drawn upon--it's funny that the MSM has forgotten that.
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on March 29, 2005


troutfishing: But your absolutist claims - that virtually no blog writing breaks new ground and that almost all blogs are crap - seem disengenuous to me, especially when coupled with your other tactic, evidenced in the case of the one example of valid internet journalism I did actually try to hold up ( my other links had little to do with that ) - Salon - was invalid because Salon isn't a blog.

Blogs crap unless they are valid, and if they are valid they are not blogs ?


Well, I'm not certain how saying that very little blog writing breaks new ground, and that almost all blog are strongly dependent on MSM counts as "absolutism."

But you are setting up some mighty big straw men to knock down here. Lets point them out one by one:
1) blogs are crap. That's not the argument here and you know it. I've stated repeatedly that blogs are very good at what they do well, popularizing and linking between key issues. However, there are some services that traditional journalists provide that most blogs have not bothered with yet.
2) If its good, it's not a blog. I've also pointed out examples of blogs that IMO do a better job at providing the readier with access to critical information about an issue than Americablog and Daily Kos.

In regards to Salon, I remember it when it first started. It was not built around a blog model (which didn't exist at that time), but rather, on the production model of a professional online alternative magazine. So comparing it to blogs is not going to work.

So : all blogs are crap?

Never said it.

Well, so what ? I defined the conversation from the outset - though you haven't yet noticed - as the realm of "not crap", as in : how do we get there, to the realm of not crap ? You seem to be fixated on the crap though, and I think that's unecessary

If you have not noticed, I've talked about this as well. So how do I think we get there?

1: Transparency of sources. Where does the information come from? How is it filtered?
2: Getting closer to primary sources. Large chunks of what happens in most governments is not that much harder to obtain than the NYT.
3: Linking to alternative media sources. If 90%+ of your content comes from MSM, then you are just a part of the MSM hegemony.
4: Synthesis between sources. Don't just link between two sources, provide a sound synthesis.
5: Hit the streets. Your opinion, is frankly not that interesting. The opinions of the people in your community and how they are impacted by an issue, is quite a bit more interesting.

amberglow: Like all the budget cuts in the new budget--for Medicare, Veterans, people with Brain Injuries, the poor, children...That's pretty much only been covered in the blogosphere to my knowledge, and not sexy at all, yet relevant.

ahem

Where do I go on the blogosphere to find the results of the last area school board meeting?

Because dependence on other sources is not at all any sort of bias.

I would say that it is a pretty clear and obvious form of bias. Even just crossing international borders radically changes the framing on a debate. As an example, contrast Scientific American's "gee whiz" articles on GMO crops to New Scientist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:34 PM on March 29, 2005


And oh, how about another idea:

Community weblogs of local coalitions of citizen-reporters. Each person is responsible for shadowing a decision-making body or representative and keeps the blog updated with news about key developments.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:16 PM on March 29, 2005


307 results? get real--and not all of those are about the new budget or even the US budget.

and you can find many many local school board minutes online--10 million plus results.
posted by amberglow at 6:13 PM on March 29, 2005


amberlow: It's not a minor distinction. To say that a report is "biased" is to say that the reporter or team that conducted had a set of ideological or political, or personal, beliefs that influenced the report and inhibited judgement. It can also inclination to believe things happened a certain way - e.g., I (not me, hypothetical) believe Rather is liberal and CBS might've faked the memo, therefore I'll go find evidence to fit my bias. It's a prejudice, of a sort, and not a procedural matter, or rather a mistake or left-out fact that results from process. I'm not throwing any baby out anywhere, just saying that use of the word "bias" here is way off.
posted by raysmj at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2005


Kirk: That would be a great idea. I've seen some local and urban government blogs in even more obscure (to most) metro areas. They, again, get their news from the main city paper, or paper or record, and maybe the local alterna-rag. But then some local bloggers I've read have ideological or sociopolitical axes to grind, even with stuff like like city hires. Really. I was reading one guy go on and on and on about how outrageous it was for a city council member (one I'd interviewed for an academic project, which was why I kept reading) to say the procedural rights of a guy who'd been hired as a city driver had been wrongly trampled upon. The blogger charged that the council member wrongly overlooked the fact that the driver had received several traffic charges, but had most dropped, thus putting his number of real violations at 12 rather than 2. The councilman, the blogger said, was just a moron for ignoring those dropped charges. And I'm sitting here thinking, well, charges that are dropped are never heard, and never go on your record, and thus . . . well, the council member was right. The driver had been screwed over.

It would help to have some bloggers here schooled in local politics, and matters of law, and are more familiar with the ways of government and politics. But I don't know how to encourage that, 'cept by making people part of an diverse team with long-schooled players, and paying them or giving members some other incentive to learn.
posted by raysmj at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2005


related : Bread and circuses
posted by amberglow at 7:41 PM on March 29, 2005


amberglow: 307 results? get real--and not all of those are about the new budget or even the US budget.

So what is it, are those stories being reported in mainstream news sources or not?

and you can find many many local school board minutes online--10 million plus results.

And many of those links are to pages that say, "minutes available by hard copy, email ..."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 PM on March 29, 2005


mainstream news sources or not--i'd say not. One WaPo and many of those links are to the exact same story--"Senators fight over tax cuts, Alaska oil"--which is not even about the budget so much as it's about the Senate fighting. And many others are about Soc Sec and only mention the budget in passing.

school minutes: ask for a copy or email them--it's your tax money and school minutes are there for your pleasure. By law, they have to be available to people who live in the district.
posted by amberglow at 9:13 PM on March 29, 2005


"And oh, how about another idea." - OK, I think we've all arrived, by our torturous self inflicted routes, at the same general spot. Funny you should mention that other idea.....

Raysmj is on the page too. Damn. You guys are too grounded to be true Blogeratti who - everyone knows - do an awful lot of handwaving whereas you two seem to want some practical solution that addresses mere local problems rather than ushering in an era or air cars and teleportation.

Maybe some bit of truly practical social software might do the trick ? I don't know.
posted by troutfishing at 9:14 PM on March 29, 2005


Then, there are national politiks too. Hmmm.....
posted by troutfishing at 9:16 PM on March 29, 2005


"All politics is local." - Tip O'Neill dictum.
posted by raysmj at 10:37 PM on March 29, 2005


raysmj - that explains the damn Central Artery problem. I could tell 'ya a story......

Meanwhile : politics and profit merge at the Backfence

This one seems to me especially vomitworthy.
posted by troutfishing at 11:25 PM on March 29, 2005


amberglow: So, we are down to a "no true scotsman" in which it is only a mainstream news source if it disagrees with your agenda? But again, I'm having a problem finding this plethora of blog articles that cover the budget without relying on MSM sources.

troutfishing: I think we were there from the beginning. But I don't feel the need to rehash that.

My personal opinion is that both the "journalism" and the "blog" model serve use purposes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:29 AM on March 30, 2005


I'm still unclear on exactly what your beef is, KJS, unless it's the small number of unrepresentative, obnoxious (and yes, mostly right-wing) bloggers who happen to make exalted, silly claims about the uselessness of "MSM." But to the exact details of what I said, here was your list:

Things that newsblogs do well:
* Popularizing stories in the MSM.
* Providing alternative avenues for opinion about stories.
* Linking between different versions of a story.


Contrary to what you said, this list does not include

*Connecting the dots between different stories that are related in an important way no previous MSM story has pointed out

Perhaps you said it somewhere else, but I was explicitly referring to your "list of things that newsblogs do well."

You also seem to ignore a crucial difference in medium - blogs, based in the Internet, have an international audience by design; MSM, based in a given locale, only have same by a derivative form (their web sites, usually shovelware). It makes little sense to ask a blogger to cover the local school board meeting or what roads are closed because such a small portion of her or his audience is affected by that - unless the scope of the blog is defined to be local.

I'm not throwing any baby out anywhere, just saying that use of the word "bias" here is way off.

There seems to be some confusion between the words "biased" and "bias." A reporter can be biased in a certain way and produce a story that includes bias. Additionally, though, the setup of the mainstream system can produce stories that include bias whether or not a given reporter shares that bias.

And as for bias resulting from the current situation at newsrooms where reporters have to churn out increasingly more stuff on increasingly frantic deadlines, yes of course, and that was precisely the premise of the post troutfishing linked to way upthread.
posted by soyjoy at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2005


soyjoy: I'm still unclear on exactly what your beef is, KJS, unless it's the small number of unrepresentative, obnoxious (and yes, mostly right-wing) bloggers who happen to make exalted, silly claims about the uselessness of "MSM."

If you look through the course of this discussion, multiple claims have been made as to the uselessness of "MSM" here.

*Connecting the dots between different stories that are related in an important way no previous MSM story has pointed out

Pardon me if I'm a bit baffled, being a native English speaker and all with a tendency to say what I mean and mean what I say, but in what way is this not covered by, "Linking between different versions of a story?" At this point, I'm wondering what your complaint is, or are you tilting at the windmill and seeing the giant of "all blogs are crap." Or are you just miffed that I prefer a linking metaphor to "connecting the dots."

You also seem to ignore a crucial difference in medium - blogs, based in the Internet, have an international audience by design; MSM, based in a given locale, only have same by a derivative form (their web sites, usually shovelware). It makes little sense to ask a blogger to cover the local school board meeting or what roads are closed because such a small portion of her or his audience is affected by that - unless the scope of the blog is defined to be local.

Well then, how do those meetings get covered?

I think the answer is obvious, these are not events that are covered well by the blog format (which draws its strengths from the personal) but are covered by traditional media production models.

I just find it outstanding when I get called "absolutist" or accused of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" for saying that blogs have their unique strengths and assets, and yet, it seems entirely reasonable to reject the possibility that traditional media production models might still have some value.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:50 AM on March 30, 2005


And yes, my last post was excessively hostile. But I'm feeling a little bit tired of what I see as an overwhelming refusal to "agree to agree."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:04 AM on March 30, 2005


soyjoy: So by all means yes, we both agree that blogs serve a valuable purpose in "Linking" or "Connecting the dots" or "Synthesis" or whatever language you wish to use.

In regards to local/global. Well, I think that on a lot of issues, we can learn quite a bit from local war-stories. The strategies used to influence School Boards in GA will probably be used to influence School Boards in NY.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:44 AM on March 30, 2005


*Connecting the dots between different stories that are related in an important way no previous MSM story has pointed out

Pardon me if I'm a bit baffled, being a native English speaker and all with a tendency to say what I mean and mean what I say, but in what way is this not covered by, "Linking between different versions of a story?"


I'll to ignore the English-speaker stuff because you copped to excessive hostility, but it's still pretty simple:

Different stories != Different versions of a story.

The former is exemplified by the example I provided as well as the work done on "Jeff Gannon." The latter (to take your words as written, anyway) describes bloggers comparing two MSM versions of a single story to detect bias in what was or wasn't left out or included.

One of these things is an acknowledged blogger practice that may or may not have a big impact on the overall discourse; the other is something new, different and noteworthy in the practice of mass-media storytelling.
posted by soyjoy at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2005


Ignore the "to" in "to ignore"
posted by soyjoy at 10:51 AM on March 30, 2005


soyjoy: The former is exemplified by the example I provided as well as the work done on "Jeff Gannon." The latter (to take your words as written, anyway) describes bloggers comparing two MSM versions of a single story to detect bias in what was or wasn't left out or included.

You say tomato, I say tomahto. Somehow, we both seem to agree.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2005


Wow. This was the most pointless discussion ever. I can't believe I'm commenting in it.

For the record, I hate the "MSM."

For the record, I work for the "MSM."

This thread was a sobering and disheartening reminder that as pigheaded and shortsighted newspaper editors can be -- fearing so much for their stupid agate type they can't recognize the tremendous possibilities pointed to by things like citizen journalism -- bloggers can be just as pigheaded and shortsighted. I guess I always need to remember that.

For the record, I love blogs. I contribute to many. I've got two of my own. Increasingly, blogs filter my world. I think those seeking to practice journalism could enhance every value journalists ostensibly hold dear -- diversity, accuracy, fairness, context, independence, rigor -- by truly embracing the Internet.

I work for that bastion of the old-school -- the local daily newspaper -- despite the fact that modern newsroom culture is basically calcified social residue from the days when journalism was all white men, loosened ties and ashtrays.

I do this because whatever the journalism of tomorrow looks like -- to whatever extent it involves blogs, or vlogs, or podcasts, or PSPs, or graphic novels, &c -- I want to be doing it.

And when you look past 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and Capitol Hill, where the vast, vast majority of today's "newsbloggers" have cybernetically staked their tents, you see a lot of information that matters to a lot of people -- information on which the blogosphere is mostly silent.

I hope that changes. I hope more and more local blogs pop up and begin to expand on the work done by all those media outlets. And above all, I hope they don't spit on the great work and information those media outlets provide the way some in this thread have, because we need more information going forward, not less. We need to add more reporters to the mix, not to try to do away with some of the best we've got.

I work for the local newspaper because right now it is the best information-gathering operation in a city with a hella lot of problems, and I think the Internet can help amplify that work. I work for the local newspaper because right now it's not anywhere near as good as it could (or should be), but there's not much better, and I want to help improve it using the Internet to the best of my abilities.

Right now, these information-gathering operations are in a lot of danger, partly because of the blind arrogance of those who run them. But if bloggers are also too arrogant to realize what they will be losing when these things are gone, then perhaps we all deserve what lies ahead.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2005


I really can't believe y'all have got me defending newspapers.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 7:49 PM on March 30, 2005


Since the other Gannon thread has been archived, I thought I'd link the latest on him here. The FOIA request to the Secret Service has come back. It seems Gannon was going into the White House on days that there were no briefings. Maybe there were debriefings.

http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/secret_service_gannon_424.htm
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:41 PM on April 25, 2005


« Older just good ol' boys? wtf?   |   Joash Woodrow - Discovered artist Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post