Fred's at it again
April 22, 2004 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Reflections On Our Media of Communication. Traditional news media vs. the internet. Are people really abandoning TV, paper, and radio news? Does the 'net really offer the best in free-press? The ever lovable Fred thinks so, and he's not afraid to tell you why.
posted by eas98 (14 comments total)
I know that many here hate this guy, but he does often have something interesting to say in his columns.

What do you think about his reasoning on this? Are we too PC to talk about it? Hmmm..
posted by eas98 at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2004

"Over the years I’ve noticed several things. First, in print publications, most reporters aren’t very smart. A few are very bright, but probably through a mistake in hiring. (The prestigious papers are exceptions, hiring Ivy League snots of the sort who viscerally dislike soldiers, cops, rural people, guns, etc.)....Second, they are painfully politically correct, frightened of making a slip. Everyone in the racket knows exactly what you can’t say and what you have to say"

I like this Fred.

But he forgot to mention - "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl"
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 AM on April 22, 2004

And every broad sweeping generalization is true, isn't it?
posted by Vidiot at 9:24 AM on April 22, 2004

Certainly much of the media could be better but it’s the best one that we’ve got. Disparaging it won’t help and neither will good reporters – as he seems to infer that he was – deserting the mainstream.

I do like his point about the hammer though. The bullock wrenching hypocrisy of the tabloid press never ceases to amaze me; to hear The Sun (think NYP) disparaging the paparazzi makes my head swim.

Fred does however somewhat undermine his argument’s wider applicability by exempting the ‘prestigious’ papers from his critique. If this isn’t about the like of the NYT, The Times, etc what then is it about? Regional media? Local media? That these organs don’t tend to generate world shattering exclusives isn’t a ‘shattering insight’ nor is the fact that they tend to be peopled by less ambitious sorts than one might find in a ‘prestige paper’.

Nevertheless I think that this is an interesting piece on a website that I’ve not come across before that I think I’ll occasionally read again
posted by dmt at 10:01 AM on April 22, 2004

The prestigious papers are exceptions, hiring Ivy League snots of the sort who viscerally dislike soldiers, cops, rural people, guns, etc...

Stating what should be obvious: people with certain pre-existing mindsets tend (avoiding over-sweeping generalization) to pick professions compatible with those mindsets. That's why the 'average' journalist is so different from the 'average' police officer or the 'average' farmer... or, for that matter, the 'average' business executive, politician or lawyer. "You are what you do" is one assumption it's usually safe to make, but when you stumble onto an a-typical journalist/police officer/farmer/etc., you discover one of the more interesting people on the planet.
posted by wendell at 10:20 AM on April 22, 2004

Third, the media are controlled, controlled, controlled.
Of course, this is a guy who used to work (willingly, I'd imagine) at the Washington Times.
posted by adamrice at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2004

Fred Reed's great. Plain and simple common sense has become the rarest of commodities in the press these days. Every time I read a half-educated bobo like Maureen Dowd ramble on pretentiously about foreign policy and whatnot I get a feeling that print newspapers are going the way of the brontosaurus.
posted by 111 at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2004

In thirty years of in the writing trades

Keep tryin', Fred. You'll get it one of these days.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2004

i agree with him mostly, especially with points 3 and 4: control of the news media, especially with TV; and privilege for reporters affecting their stories.

once people realize that they're only getting a tiny fraction of the information available, it's no longer as appealing.

the Net is almost an ideal free (not entirely because the slight barrier to entry, i.e. a library card, etc.) press that will only get better and better. other media will survive, but i believe it will mostly be entertainment-based, rather than news.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on April 22, 2004

This guy's journalism experience exclusively includes working for right-wing Sun Myung Own-owned publications like the UPI and Washington Times. That might explain his ideas about diversity. His alma mater was the only paper to have a regular Civil War section.
posted by inksyndicate at 1:05 PM on April 22, 2004

Reed's a jackass with a one-track mind, who needs as much editing as any teen-angsty-blogger and with the tunnel vision of an insomniac truck driver, but he does have a point here.

The print media in general are lazy. They travel in packs and get spoonfed stories by flacks and spinners instead of investigating the things they should be chasing down. And now they can just go through their bookmarks and glean the legwork done by the bloggers they read.

It's kind of shameful, and it doesn't have to be this way.

There are signs that the slack-pack mentality is fading a little. The L.A. Times has broken a few good stories, and those snooty Ivy-league dilettantes at the snootier rags occasionally get out of their gilded towers and do some solid reportage.

But I suspect this is the first and last time I ever give serious credence to anyone who's ever written for the Washington Times. I just find it to be a shockingly closed-minded, wilfully ignorant paper. And (did I mention?) Reed's a jackass, who I only read about every six months these days, to see if he's changed his tune at all.

And, except for a stretch of about two sentences in the rant above, he never does.
posted by chicobangs at 1:27 PM on April 22, 2004

If people were really migrating to the 'net to receive information on a meaningful scale, the value of things like local TV stations (a "traditional" news source) would be falling; that's how markets work. But their value continues to rise faster than inflation. It's too early to say that the Net is a major player. And it's hard to say it will be someday. The major internet providers are turning into major content producers, and eventually they're going to start doing some very anti-democratic things...

On another note, it's good to see that Fred gets how ownership affects content. Most people get that one wrong.

The print media in general are lazy.

It's not so much that print media are lazy as that it's cheaper to not bother investigating. Cutting costs helps the bottom line.

Certainly much of the media could be better but it’s the best one that we’ve got.

Right, but there's a lot that could be done to improve it — particularly on the federal policy level. Check out Free Press, a non-partisan group working to bring media policymaking out into the open.
posted by drywall at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2004

Here is a good article that talks about political correctness and how truth and freedom is the victim. Fred speaks truth and he can expect to be blasted for it by those that seek equality above freedom.
posted by stbalbach at 4:51 PM on April 22, 2004

"The Blogs of War" .. article about how War Blogs scooped the traditional press in Iraq.
posted by stbalbach at 5:22 PM on April 22, 2004

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