Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Case for the Old Media

Reader S.B. points out this Lawrence Henry piece about the limits of blogs.

No disrespect to Hugh Hewitt or Glenn Reynolds or the other Galley Slaves, but blogging really is several evolutions beneath real journalism. It ignores the craftsmanship of writing as well as the value of reporting. The blogosphere is neither as important nor as aesthetically pleasing as the world of traditional media. And bloggers who miss this point in their own triumphalism are ignoring the bigger picture.

Here's the thing: Are blogs valuable? Absolutely. Do they contribute to the national discourse? You bet. Have they begun to exert a gravitational force on the old media? Yup. Are they going to continue to grow in importance? I see no reason why they shouldn't.

But for every AP story that blogs correct or CBS News scandal that they catch, there are thousands and thousands of good stories being written and reported by the old-media journalists whom bloggers so routinely scorn.

Switch on CNN or Fox News or MSNBC during the day, open up the Washington Post or the New York Times at random--heck, pick any page out of any issue of the New Yorker--and you'll find a fistful of good stories that all the bloggers in America put together missed.

And ask yourself this question: If God came down tomorrow and said He was going to blow up either the blogosphere or the old media, which one would you rather have around? I take the old media. Even with Dan Rather. Even with Jayson Blair. Even with the Columbia Journalism Review. Even with all of its systemic, maddening problems.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The blogosphere is a wonderful tool. But the New York Times is a civilizational advance on the order of magnitude of the Great Library of Alexandria. Anything meaningful that happens anywhere across the globe is chronicled by the Times and the rest of the "old media."

The blogosphere should continue to hold the old media accountable for its mistakes. And in doing so, they'll make the old media better. But it would be nice if bloggers would, from time to time, demonstrate an understanding of perspective. And show a little respect for the professionals who do the hard work of good journalism well.

2 comments:

greg said...

Oh. Does this mean no nude, live blogging tonight during the debate?

Anonymous said...

Can't agree. The MSM is not only biased, but also usually inaccurate, even in minor stories/pieces. My local newspaper is definitely in the MSM (category), and it continually misquotes, misleads, distorts, etc. Now how much good work can you claim goes into that? How much value is there in an inaccurate article. Admittedly a lot of the problem is the lack of basic knowledge which journalist possess on the subject matter of their piece. Would it be too much to ask that journalist/reporters get assigned to stories where they have some expertise? Or maybe research the subject before the write. This blindly writing what their often one source (with one perspective) provides them is getting disgustingly old. Is just writing ability enough to qualify one to be a journalist? Obviously following "journalist ethics" (oxymoron) is no longer a requirement.

MaDr