Those Pesky Bloggers

Newspaper reporters and bloggers use the same machines, but sometimes they don't see the same things. Jay Rosen in "Press Think" wrote in 2009, "...journalists maintain order by either keeping the deviant out of the news entirely or identifying it within the news frame as unacceptable, radical, or just plain impossible."

Peoria Pundit keeps watch on his local media’s decline, not the mention to decline of what he calls “dead tree” media.

Recently he pointed readers to a talk by Jay Rosen, who writes “Press Talk, Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine.”

I realize most readers won’t be interested, but those newspaper reporters who dip in might find Rosen’s perspective illuminating.

Most interesting to me was the Lincoln Stephens view of journalism, which, presumably, is old hat to those who attended journalism school (my master’s degree at the University of Michigan was in Public Administration, while my major at Oberlin College was economics).

He was into, hold on now, advocacy journalism.

“I am not a scientist. I am a journalist.

“I did not gather with indifference all the facts and arrange them patiently for permanent preservation and laboratory analysis.

“I did not want to preserve, I wanted to destroy the facts.

“My purpose was [to] see if the shameful facts, spread out in all their shame, would not burn through our civic shamelessness and set fire to American pride.

“That was the journalism of it.

“I wanted to move and to convince.”

If only reporters in the Leftstream media would be as forthright with their readers/watchers.

Rosen points to five sources of stress for journalists:

“Journalists today are under stress. The stress has five sources. Bloggers put all five right into the face of professional journalism.

  • One: A collapsing economic model, as print and broadcast dollars are exchanged for digital dimes.
  • Two: New competition (the loss of monopoly) as a disruptive technology, the Internet, does its thing.
  • Three. A shift in power. The tools of the modern media have been distributed to the people formerly known as the audience.
  • Four: A new pattern of information flow, in which ‘stuff’ moves horizontally, peer to peer, as effectively as it moves vertically, from producer to consumer. Audience atomization overcome, I call it.
  • Five. The erosion of trust (which started a long time ago but accelerated after 2002) and the loss of authority.”

If you are intrigued at the “look down the nose” approach of too many newspaper types who have no chance of having enough reporters to cover stories that they wish they could run, you might want to read the entire, long speech.


Those Pesky Bloggers — 3 Comments

  1. This is old news, in fact.

    Back in 1993 and 1994, some were waking up to the fact that the Internet paradigm was changing everything.

    Before blogs and chat rooms, and before the World Wide Web was dominant, there was USENET (short for users network). USENET was a distributed processing architecture of servers around the world. A person could compose an article, post it in his ISP’s USENET server, which would automatically distribute it every other USENET server in the world. Generally, within 24 hours, the ideas presented were available to any who bothered to look. In 1993 and 1994, there was email and USENET. It is how debate took place.

    Debate and discussion were facilitated by USENET, grouped by category.

    But even back then, the world changed. I participated in a discussion about traditional news papers and TV news, with the editors of TIME Magazine. They could not see the coming tsunami of information flow, even when it was right in front of them.

    My discussion was picked up by an author and republished in a book. What follows is an excerpt of my contribution to that book, “The Effect of the Net on the Professional News Media: The Usenet News Collective – The Man-Computer News Symbiosis,” by Michael Hauben,

    “This writer believes that you (the traditional press) face the same
    challenge that the monks in the monastery faced when Gutenberg
    started printing Bibles.”

    [Zoes, Jim (1994, July 22). “Re: TIME Cover Story: pipeline to
    editors” in USENET Newsgroup:]

    “Your top-down model of journalism allows traditional media to control the
    debate, and even if you provide opportunity for opposing views, the editor
    *always* had the last word. In the new paradigm, not only do you not
    necessarily have the last word, you no longer even control the flow of the

    “The growth and acceptance of email, coupled with discussion groups
    (Usenet) and mail lists provide for a “market place of ideas” hitherto not
    possible since perhaps the days of the classic Athenians.”

    The reason is that the Internet is a 2-way communication channel. Newsapers and TV news is 1 directional only. This 2-way channel effectively ended the “gatekeeper” function of the reporters and editors, by allowing anyone to be a “news disseminator.”

    And the result of its effect on the “market place of ideas” is staggering:

    First of all, the traditional method of distributing information was immediately obsoleted. Couple in a search engine that would provide the links to web pages that would contain information sought, and you had a methodology for myriad groups of people to discuss ideas, or comment on the world.

    Now, Cal’s blog requires registration to upload comments. And Cal retains complete control of the content – after all, it’s his blog. However, unlike the traditional news outlets, the computer on my desk (or in my smart phone) is also a content distributor. If I choose (or if Cal decides that he doesn’t want me commenting on his blog), I can start my own blog. I could call it “The Other McHenry County Blog” or even “Cal’s all wet, here’s the truth blog”

    Just about every news paper in America and every television network has bowed to the inevitable and included some form of “comment section,” even the Northwest Herald (though they disabled theirs for a 2 week period).

    The possibility that an individual’s ideas could be read – and influence the opinions of millions of others – quickly became a major headache for the major dailies and TV networks. It was quickly noticed. For example:

    “Consider this: My $1000 PC is now a personal broadcasting station
    that reaches more people than the CBS affiliate in Washington D.C. I
    can get more local viewers with a single e-mail posting to the
    Internet than Sally Jessy Raphael can get in a single sweeps month
    … (Hey Washington Post! POOF! You’re a newsletter!)”

    [Paul McCloskey, Forward to “The Internet for Dummies,” IDG Books Worldwide,
    Inc., San Mateo, CA, 1993]

    Up until the personal computer with an Internet connection, it was economically infeasonable to try to “go around the gatekeeper.” Now, the gatekeeper has been steamrollered.

    The leftstream media (ironically using the Internet to coordinated their message – like the “JournoLst” email list) still does not “get it.” Witness how quickly Dan Rather got taken down when he published forged documents purporting to claim that President Bush was AWOL in the Air National Guard. In less the 12 hours, the fraud was detected. Within 24 hours, the mechanism on how it was done was determined – and explained to the world. And in 48 hours, Rather’s long career in broadcast journalism was destroyed.

    The leftstream media succeeded in fooling most of America into voting for Obama, but has been flat out unable to keep independent voters in line, as the November 2010 election proved. Why? Because other “higher quality” (in terms of spin) news was available elsewhere. There was talk radio, which is the Rightstream media for all practical purposes. But more importantly, there were independent news sites – not just news for the right, but newspapers from around the world, You would be surprised at how much news about America is found in FOREIGN online newspapers. News that our media “spikes” – such as the nasty signs being carried by pro-union supporters in Madison recently. But the pictures of the left equating Walker with Hitler could be seen on other media that was not in journalism lockstep in trying to make the protesters look like angels.

    Did the national news organizations report the death threats against Republicans in Wisconsin? Nope. But the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee did, as did the local county/city papers in the state. And you could bypass the “gate” that the Leftstream media by simply reading the local papers online, like the LaCrosse Tribune, which detailed the threats and vandalism against their Republican state Senator.

    Katy Couric gave the impression that all was sweetness and light in Madison. That it was a peaceful demonstration of solidarity, with little if any mention of the vandalism damage to the capitol building OR the death threats against the Republicans. Storming a state capitol building is a scary thing to see. The screaming, the profanity, the pushing and shoving, is a violent act. So very little from the Networks and CNN. But the Journal Sentinel had it. The independent bloggers and pundits had it. Everybody with a camera phone even had it on video, which was quickly uploaded to YouTube.

    The Leftstream media thought they controlled the flow of information – that they were still the “Holy GateKeepers.” They were wrong, and their empire has collapsed into the dust. And I think that this is a good thing for our Republic.

  2. fascinating; waiting for NWHerald to implode while the blogs capture the market.

  3. Cal, I know you read lots of newspapers. I cringe everytime I hear people cheering for the death of newspapers. Its easy to write every newspaper reporter off as a liberal advocate, but the truth is that the professional press in print media are some of the few people with the resources and training to provide the checks and balances neccesary for a Democracy. I love bloggers too! But I will miss my newspaper when (if?) it dies.

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