Posts Tagged ‘News Media’

If newspapers die, will we lose anything?

March 23, 2016

My friend and former editor Anne Tanner worries about the future of journalism, and of newspapers in particular, as I do.  She e-mailed me a link to an article in Britain’s Prospect Magazine about the future of newspapers, from which I pull the excerpt below.

So far, the online news world has had a slightly shabby reputation.  On the one hand there are endless feeds simply repeating or re-tweeting the same basic information; the spread of lazy list-based journalism; and the parasite websites, picking the dirty bits out of the teeth of the major news corporations.  On the other hand there is the reactive underworld of almost incoherent anger, the moon-faced, flabby-fingered trolls who reduce all public argument to puerile sexual abuse.

newspaper-2Yet as more and more of us turn to our laptops, the news is getting better.  When I am researching I like to “read sideways”—that is, find a story or a footnote, trace it down to its origin, and keep going from there.  This sideways reading, made possible by hyperlinks, is the essence of the best of what is on the web.

On websites such as Buzzfeed, there is delight as well as disappointment.  The disappointment is that although there are in-depth essays and some foreign coverage, it’s still a long way from the regular, reliable foreign news service that the average news junkie would expect from the average serious newspaper.  The delight is about the ingenuity and creativity of its staff—if you haven’t seen Kelly Oakes’s “If newspaper headlines were scientifically accurate” you are missing something special.

It’s not only possible to become a really well-informed and engaged person by reading the news—it’s getting easier all the time. But relying on a single, under-funded, pressurized editorial team and a dampish wodge of flattened spruce arriving on your doormat every day is no longer the best way to go about it.  You just have to be more proactive and spend a bit more time to get what you need

Source: Prospect Magazine


ACORN and the “liberal media”

March 8, 2010

Remember the videos of the ACORN employees giving tax preparation advice to pimps?  It turns out that the videos were doctored and largely faked.  Never mind.  They accomplished their goal, which was to discredit an organization that helped poor people register to vote and get their legal rights.  When the so-called mainstream news media fall for such a hoax, they lose their standing to sneer at the shortcomings of Internet journalism.

Why were the news media, from the Washington Post to Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, so willing to accept these doctored videos without checking?  I can think of one reason.  The majority of reporters are Democrats who think of themselves as liberals, but want to bend over backwards to prove they aren’t really all the liberal.  I was like that myself, to some extent, when I reported on business; I bent over backward to show that I wasn’t anti-business.  The constant attacks on the “liberal media” are what Pat Buchanan called “working the refs,” and they achieve their purpose.  So the ACORN videos provided a good opportunity for the “liberal media” to show that they aren’t always so liberal.

The other aspect of the “liberal media,” as represented by the Washington press corps, is that its liberalism is mainly social liberalism.  There is a lot more sympathy among the TV talk show for gay marriage and abortion rights than for labor unions or the struggles of poor black people.  Or so it seems to me.   They are much more likely to believe a slur against black people living in slums than against college-educated white people living in Washington or New York.

[Update 12/29/10]   Juan Carlos Vera, the ACORN employee that James O’Keefe videoed, did exactly the right thing.  He listened to O’Keefe’s fake tale of being a pimp, wrote down the information and relayed it to the police.  But O’Keefe’s video cost him his job. The misleading video is still posted on the Internet, and no effort has been made by O’Keefe or Andrew Breitbart to correct it.