...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

August 31, 2004

Unbelievable . . . Predictable Old Media

Amazing. CNN and Larry King just broadcast the tepid beginning of Michael Steele's speech before the RNC. And (so predictable it shouldn't surprise me) when he got into the middle of his speech and started to hammer on Kerry's record, CNN cut to a floor reporter who had nothing to say.

Yet there's no media bias.

CNN is pulling their oar on the Kerry rowboat with such incredible enthusiasm, they don't even notice that the boat's sinking. And it's taking them with it as it goes down.

In this vein, please, please read Professor Reynold's latest Tech Central Station column, if you are at all interested in the impact of blogging and the new media. i think he hits the nail right on the head.

The rise of the blogosphere is revealing the old media as an emperor with no clothes, which must get its act together or be crushed. Professional journalists are lazy, uneducated hacks, as i've said so many times before. When they have to compete with superb "amateurs" like Reynolds, Volokh, Hinderaker et al., Hewitt, Ed Morrissey, Wretchard, etc.* they can only lose.

Professional journalists simply can't match the top bloggers' ability to research and articulate the news at the speed of light. In the world of the new media, amateurs produce like professionals and the professionals are exposed as amateurs.

Reynolds quotes Hinderaker:

A bunch of amateurs, no matter how smart and enthusiastic, could never outperform professional neurosurgeons, because they lack the specialized training and experience necessary for that field. But what qualifications, exactly, does it take to be a journalist? What can they do that we can't? Nothing. Generally speaking, they don't know any more about primary data and raw sources of information than we do-- often less. Their general knowledge is often inadequate. Their superior resources should allow them to carry out investigations far beyond what we amateurs can do. But the reality is that the mainstream media rarely use those resources. Too many journalists are bored, biased and lazy.
Hack reporters are helpless to fix their own deficiencies, they don't have the brainpower or common sense, nor do they seem to care. They will have to adapt to the new media or wither away, and i'm actually not sure which eventuality i prefer more.

Update: David Boxenhorn points out more strengths inherent in the new media.

Who would you trust more to give you the right answer? Four million randomly chosen people, or your buddies in the newsroom who were all chosen because the boss likes the way they think? The blogosphere has the characteristics of wise crowds, as set down by James Surowiecki:
  1. Divesity of opinion – each person should have some private information, even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the facts.

  2. Independence – people’s opinions are not determined by the opinions of those around them.

  3. Decentralization – people are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.

  4. Aggregation – some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into collective decision.
Even if the mainstream media weren’t ingrown and biased, you would find that the blogs win – always.
Link via Instapundit.

* Yes, in spite of his few successes, i most intentionally omitted Andruw Sullivan, who is an intellectually dishonest, self-promoting shill.

Posted by annika, Aug. 31, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


It would be interesting to know the SAT scores of those who major in journalism. My guess would be higher than education majors, but lower than most other subjects.

We can't declare victory yet, though. The proportion of the population that reads blogs is still probably only 5% or so...a very influential 5%, but still far fewer than the people who get their news and opinions from the MSM.

Posted by: David Foster on Aug. 31, 2004

Very well said, Annika

Posted by: jake on Aug. 31, 2004

Funny, I came to the same conclusion about Sullivan about a year ago. He is ultimately a one issue guy who won't admit it to himself. The intellectual contortions that result make him not worth my time.

Posted by: Mark on Sep. 1, 2004

David, I happen to be good friends with a journalism major who was National Honor Society in HS and is quite intelligent & literate, so be careful about generalizations.

As it is, she works as a technical writer and jokes that her degree is really in grammar.

Posted by: Victor on Sep. 1, 2004

Excellent post! And Sullivan is a shill!

Posted by: Scof on Sep. 1, 2004

"...i most intentionally omitted Andruw Sullivan, who is an intellectually dishonest, self-promoting shill."

He became a one trick political pony a long time ago, and a hypocritical one at that. I actually don't mind single issue voters(okay, some of them are nuts). What does piss me off is when they claim NOT to be a single issue voter, just like Sullivan.

Posted by: physics geek on Sep. 1, 2004

I think the decline of the Old Media can also be traced, at least in part, to the moment that journalism stopped being a trade and started being an academic discipline. A hundred years ago, most journalists openly wore their politics on their sleeves, but they also went out and worked hard getting stories: they had no sense of entitlement. By contrast, modern hacks, as the secular priestly class they aspire to be, have been spoon-fed for generations with a mix of largely useless jargon-filled "communications theory" and self-important "journalists will save the world" political propaganda.

Posted by: Dave J on Sep. 1, 2004

Victor...of course there are exceptions. But is it coincidental that she works as a tech writer instead of a journalist...or is she just too smart to do journalism as it is now done?

Posted by: David Foster on Sep. 1, 2004

Gawd u r so fucking right on.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 1, 2004

Should have seen the shithead editor of the NYT on Washington Journal this morning with Brian Lamb. What a fucking buffoon. He wasn't even capable of following the questions. His major at university... English Lit.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 1, 2004

"Link via Instapundit."

Isn't that ironic when you could have gotten it from your own blogroll. Guess that's the strength of the Internet.

Posted by: NZB on Sep. 2, 2004

Fair question, David: She works as a technical writer because the pay is better, and has never worked as a journalist. She's liberal but practical :)

Posted by: Victor on Sep. 2, 2004

As one who benefits from ongoing sharing of information, the blogoshere is just another example of evolution in action. There was a need for wide ranging, informed opinion and the dissemination of multiple sources of news. The current waddling excuse of "mainstream" news media will continue on for a time and will be slowly but inexorably replaced. By what? I don't know but that isn't important (at least not to me).

Posted by: Kelly on Sep. 3, 2004