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  • Are Blogs the Big Media Target of 2005?

       January 14, 2005

    With President Bush safely in office for another four years, the mainstream media's thoughts have turned to another dangerous enemy: the blogger. The Columbia Journalism Review likens blogger's work in RatherGate as "mob rule". ABC News named bloggers their "People of the Year", but failed to mention anything at all about RatherGate. Instead, their short story seemed to focus on blogs more as personal journals and/or tools of political parties. Jonathan Klein famously said, "Bloggers have no checks and balances . . . [it's] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas." And now, the Wall Street Journal has joined in, attacking some left wing bloggers for receiving payments from the Dean campaign.

    I'm surprised to find myself defending Kos, but I think he's absolutely correct. The WSJ is trying equate the White House's incredibly stupid decision to pay Armstrong Williams with the Dean campaign's early adoption of bloggers. Kos says:

    So what's going on? Zephyr is obsessed with imposing journalistic standards on the blogosphere. We can debate the merits of this issue, and good points can be made on both sides (I think it's a dumb idea). But what Zephyr did, and which I find unconscionable, is that she took the Armstrong Williams issue, and made up shit about our involvement with the Dean campaign to score points.

    Bloggers are not objective. Who the hell would even want to read an "objective" blog. Bloggers wear their point of view on their sleeves. Kos and Instapundit and other bloggers are debating the issue of disclosure, as in, do bloggers have to disclose whether they're receiving payments from a party or campaign? I think it's completely irrelevant. When you come to a site called "Dummocrats", I think you know where we're coming from. Same with Liberal Oasis or Right Wing News. No one on the internet is pretending to not have an opinion, the way that mainstream media reporters do day after day and night after night.

    In the past, I've never bought the argument that the mainstream media's only real bias was for a good story. But, in this case, I don't think we're going to see a bias towards the left or the right. The media will direct its efforts at denigrating all blogs because self preservation trumps all.

    In 2004, reporters were shamed by bloggers. Individuals who never went to J-School and who don't have the full force of a news organization behind them were able to uncover stories that paid journalists completely missed. Don't you think that makes them feel inadequate and, dare I say, a little defensive? What do people do when they feel defensive? They strike out. That's what I predict the mainstream media will do in 2005. They'll try to "get back" at bloggers either through unflattering stories or, even more threateningly, by pulling free content from the Internet. CBS News even altered its PDF of the RatherGate report so you could not cut and paste from it, making it more difficult for bloggers to quote from it.

    The mainstream media's response to bloggers is strikingly similar to that of the recording industry. Instead of embracing the internet and using it to improve their product, they see it as a threat and want to get rid of it. So, maybe it's not bloggers that they fear after all, maybe what they really fear is change. But, as Confucius said, "Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change." And, I don't think anyone's going to argue that reporters are the wisest of men.

    Posted by at January 14, 2005 11:02 AM

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    #  March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM      Converted_Comment
    Converted comment: Posted by: Drew at January 14, 2005 02:35 PM

    Of course, some of us DID go to J-School. ;^)

    By the way, I think the reaction of the music industry to downloading is an apt comparison. Record companies don't like the idea that the proles are finding ways to "avoid the middleman." Similarly, the old-style media doesn't like the fact that they are no longer the sole gatekeepers for news consumers. Spot-on, as they say.




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