Friday, September 28, 2007


Watching the events unfold in Burma (I'm guessing that the name Mynamar Myanmar will soon be inoperative) is fascinating on many levels.

I am worried for but very impressed by the monks and other protesters there, of course. And I am alternately amused and disgusted at the hypocrisy being offered by the shovelful from the White House.

But as I was listening to coverage, such as it is, on the radio this morning, I was struck by something else.

As the blogosphere has grown, Big Media has become increasingly jealous of (and pissy toward) their upstart rival. One of the most frequent charges leveled against us has been, in essence, that we are purely derivative of their heavy lifting. We all know the pattern: they compeltely blow a story. We ridicule them. They whine. "You're nothing without us!" they cry, and then go out and do the same stupid, lazy-assed things that brought on the criticism in the first place. "If not for us," they claim, "you bloggers would have no role, nothing to say, nothing to work with." The thrust of their argument is that there can be journalism without the blogosphere, but no blogosphere without journalists.

But think about what is happening in Burma. The ruling party has shut out all outside journalists, and the internal state-controlled media are known to be worthless. But brave citizens have been blogging, sending phonecam videos and pictures and otherwise getting the story out. What you have in Burma, in a sense, is bloggers without journalists.

That brings us to two amazing outcomes. First, it means that, in order to bring us that story, professional journalists are relying on the primary source work of the citizens who are brave and resourceful enough to make ground-level reporting available to us. In other words, the journalists are completely dependent on the bloggers.


Compare that with the situation in Iraq, where the primary source material comes from the Old Media in the form of stellar events like Katie Couric's recent dog & pony tour. How's that working out?

Compare: bloggers without Big Media (Burma), versus Big Media without bloggers (Iraq). Which do you think gives you a better sense of what is going on? It is probably too early to say for sure, but I am willing to seriously entertain the possibility that a free and open blogosphere renders Big Media superfluous.

Now you know why the old guard is trying so hard to kill Net Neutrality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Editing for thoroughness of coverage and clarity of content have been dropping dramatically in Big Media. But that has been happening over the last 15 to 20 years. Now they don't even bother to fact check or spell check! And the idea of checking your own broadsheet for objectivity was only ever briefly considered by MSM. But that doesn't absolve others of the reasonable expectation their work will be better than that.

The problem comes with bloggers who, sad to say, do not use their own spell checkers or become so excited by the in-fact valid news they are carrying that they forget to present it clearly or in its entirety. YES, WE DO NEED BLOGGER REPORTERS. We just need them to be better at the trade than the current set of flunkies for the powers that be. That shouldn't be that hard and anyone styling themselves as the new media should not object to this critique. The expectation of a highly refined report is there because it means that the issue being reported is not simply a temporary diversion.

The truth is, quality is what sells. In any profession. The truth (news) is available to most. It's how it's sold that makes the difference. Timing is not so important in many news stories as accuracy, thoroughness and real objectivity. That IS hard to find lately from anybody.

News is just simple facts – Trade towers collapse, thousands killed. In seconds, the whole world knew the facts. What then separates the follow on reports is the mindset. Is the reporter analyzing or entertaining? Useful analysis has always been hard to come by and it isn't getting easier. And it's still just as valuable as ever.

BTW, it's Myanmar, not Mynamar.


8:04 PM  

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