February 16, 2005

Hey! I Don't Salivate!

Jeff Jarvis has a couple of excellent posts up "defending" bloggers in the wake of the Eason Jordan fiasco.

So why are some of these journalists attacking the bloggers with such spittle and spite, with the kind of invective they usually try to keep out of their columns (Steve Lovelady called us not just a lynch mob but "salivating morons," stooping to the level of intelligence, subtlety, nuance, and articulation of an Oliver Willis fuss)? Yes, it's jealousy. Yes, it's fear. But it's also truly about not understanding how this world could possibly operate. These are the people who used to control the news and they think it's now uncontrolled; they think that's bad.

Those who choose to chastise bloggers need to focus on two important facts. The first is that many bloggers out there (myself included) have graduate or undergraduate degrees in English and/or experience in journalism; we aren't complete neophytes. Regardless, simply because one has a vocation unrelated to media doesn't mean one can't have a basic sense of integrity and ethics. There are many bloggers out there who, I believe, have a higher degree of integrity than, say, The NY Times (presently, anyway). The Times is still getting away with stuff like this:

In September, conservative bloggers exposed flaws in a report by Dan Rather; he subsequently announced that on March 9 he would step down as anchor of the "CBS Evening News."

You'll note that the bloggers are lumped together as "conservative," yet Rather--despite the fact that his political views are well known--is not labeled as a liberal. The meaning? Mainstream media is objective; bloggers are biased. No mention of the politically charged nature of the "report." No mention of the fact that what cost Rather were not the "flaws" (which, for the record, I think is a really nice way to say "forged documents." Maybe we could start using this delivery in other fields. "Well, Mr. Jones, you have an inoperable 'flaw' in your lungs the size of a golf ball.") in the report, but rather (no pun intended) his stubbornness and arrogance in refusing to admit what nearly all of his viewers could see was obvious. Try posting a sentence like the one above on a well-read blog and see how long it lasts untarnished.

The other fact so often neglected in at least one important way by the mainstream media is one that they themselves report with more than a hint of foreboding--people are listening. Those, like Lovelady, who are so busy calling us "lynch mobs" and "salivating morons," are not asking themselves the important question, which is: Why are bloggers able to exert such pressure? Why are so many turning to the various blogs out there for their information? What is it that we are giving people that the mainstream media is not (besides fodder for our posts, that is)? Maybe it's a chance to respond in a comments section, to feel like part of the process. Free exchange of ideas is a seductive idea, and one not readily practiced in the MSM. Maybe it's the fact that people understand that unlike the mainstream media, most of us do this without making a cent. There's something appealing about the idea of men and women giving up time and effort to pursue the news, especially in a county often labeled apathetic. I know I'm amazed at the work done by some of the bloggers out there. Whatever the reason, however, the monopoly on information is over, and as it is in any free market, those who supply the best product will thrive.

Mainstream media needs to pick up the lesson that the Democrats should have learned from the last election--It's not enough to belittle your opponents and count on public dissatisfaction to Kerry carry you through; you have to improve your own image. What's the quote? Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door? The mainstream media needs to start building, and quit complaining that bloggers stole their mice.

1 comment:

  1. See also: