Although thanks to Universal Press Syndicate I am now, somewhat to my astonishment, a nationally syndicated columnist, my media perspective remains with the New Media, the Internet and the blogosphere – not the mainstream media. What does this signify?
It means I do not believe my opinion is inherently objective, thanks to a course or two in Olympian Perspectives. It means I view editors as being more thought-police than fact-checkers. It means I know I am responsible for my own errors and no one is going to hide them for me behind a bland statement by a geriatric ombudsman made weeks after the fact. It means I am free.
Fred Reed, the longtime military and police reporter for the Army Times and the Washington Times, wrote a wonderfully contemptuous column explaining why the newspaper media is almost universally awful. He gave six reasons for its increasing tendency toward mediocrity and irrelevance.
- Print reporters aren’t very smart.
- Everyone at a newspaper is frightened of offending someone.
- The media is inherently self-controlled. Outsiders are not allowed to speak freely.
- Ruffling feathers leads to diminishing the all-important access.
- Superficial diversity in the newsroom brings about less diversity of opinion.
- Corporate ownership influences coverage.
It’s true reporters are not very smart. Even worse, they’re usually not very well educated, even in the areas of their supposed specialty. Ask the average business reporter what hedonic adjustment is and he won’t be able to tell you, even if he often writes about the Consumer Price Index. In my experience, reporters operate under the assumption that having heard of something is equivalent to actually understanding it, which is one reason why newspapers regularly make one bizarre prediction after another, none of which ever comes to pass.
Television news is even worse. Brenda Buttner, the host of Fox’s “Bulls and Bears,” said last week: “If you actually adjust for inflation, the inflation numbers aren’t so bad.” I would hesitate to bring up what one would hope was a simple verbal slip, except that her guests – media experts all – immediately agreed with her.
Indeed, on the few occasions I watch the television or read the mainstream newspapers at all these days, I am struck by a weird sense of going back in time. By the time a bit of information cracks the mainstream news cycle, it has often been circulating the blogosphere for days, sometimes weeks. This is not to assert that Internet news is always accurate, but in a time when mainstream reporters and editors are dropping like flies thanks to their predilection for fiction – three USA Today editors being the latest casualties – it’s clear one cannot judge the message by the medium.
If you’re not yet familiar with the brave new world of the Web log, I highly recommend an excursion into the wild, chaotic newsflow of the blogosphere. Stop by Vox Popoli, my blog, where libertarians and conservatives spar enthusiastically over anything and everything from atheism to the Legend of Zelda. Or get a closer view of the war in Iraq through the military blogs, such as Blackfive: the Paratrooper of Love, Citizen Smash and From The Halls to the Shores. Those looking to understand the coming economic storm would do well to check out the Mises Economics blog, which occasionally features WorldNetDaily’s own Ilana Mercer.
It’s not hard to see that Fred Reed’s six points of media mediocrity simply don’t apply to the Internet media. WorldNetDaily, TownHall and other Internet sites feature the best national writers, not the local hacks. And even a cursory glance at the blogosphere quickly demonstrates:
- The intelligence of bloggers and their regulars is often frightening.
- As is the willingness of many bloggers to say precisely what they think. Even if you wish they wouldn’t.
- Every blog with comments provides outsiders with an open mike. See point No. 2.
- You can’t lose what you haven’t got. In any event, access is usually a synonym for acting as a public-relations mouthpiece.
- The blogosphere is nothing but genuine diversity – of almost everything.
- No corporations, just free individuals speaking freely.
We may not be approaching singularity and posthumanity, but the day of the input-only news consumer is over. As one media scandal flows into the next, it’s becoming increasingly clear this is no great loss.