And now a word from our sponsor

And now a word from our sponsor

: Tom Watson hates my post last night giving bloggers credit for helping topple Rather. Go read it.

: UPDATE: There’s an odd discussion going on here and at Tom’s blog on bourgeois vs. proletarian with folks complaining that I can’t be just folk because I’ve had media jobs. My response to Tom and the commenter here:

First, this was my response to someone who agreed with you in a comment under my link to your post:

Pardon me, but you sound a bit like the cultural revolution in Mao’s time, making the proletariat into the new exclusive class. I’m people, too. I don’t declare myself “a-list.” You said that. In the blogosophere, in fact, talking about an a-list is old media think, back to the days when only the one or two biggest could afford the printing press or the broadcast tower. That is mass-market-think. And that is over. Now we are all equal, we’re all just people. That’s the point. Dan Rather is no beter than you or me. He may think he is. By this rationale, you may think he is. But I don’t. And I don’t think I’m any better — any more of an a-lister — than anyone else. So don’t put me apart in a room you built for me.

Second, I had not appeared on TV or been quoted in media in years. Oh, yes, I used to be — when I had a media perch at TVGuide and People. But that went away. It came back only because I am blogging. I’ve been on those shows with the likes of the man behind PowerLineBlog and much of the Rather fact-checking, who’s not, to the best of my knowledge, a media mogul (he’s not even from New York!). Sure, big media is going to be more comfortable at first putting on other media guys but that is expanding and that is a great thing.

Third, on Rather himself: I was highly critical of Rather long before I became a blogger. I called him the dumbest anchor alive. I regularly complained about his pomposity. So this is not a blogger-come-lately attitude; it is my opinion of Rather and has been for years. I think that Rather has been bad for journalism and bad for TV journalism and he was particularly poisonous when he refused to admit for 12 days that he could have made a mistake. I am glad to see him dethroned for more than the latest Rathergate. I wrote a much longer set of posts today trying to explain that here [scroll up].

Fourth, that is not out of some right-wing conspiracy. I’m a Democrat. Voted for Kerry. Can’t stand Rather. That’s not incompatible. And it’s not the stuff of conspiracy theories.

Thanks for the nice things you said at the same time. I appreciate that. I like you and your blog, too. And I love having discussions like this. These are not the discussions of bourgeois vs. proletariat it’s just a discussion.

Dan Rather’s biggest mistake was dismissing those who would have gotten him closer to the truth just because they weren’t elite and weren’t fellow professionals. That kept him removed from the facts and removed from his public; it was just plain snobbish. Please don’t do the same thing in reverse to me just because I’ve been lucky to have some good jobs. I’m still just another person in a conversation with you and that is the real future of media….

And, by the way, Tom, your resume looks an awful lot like mine. So what we have here is a media pro complaining about a media pro complaining about a media pro. Do I hear an echo in here? Do I hear an echo in here? Let’s get past judging people by what they are or were and instead judge what they say and how they say it. Isn’t that what this medium is all about? I am proud of my resume as you should be proud of yours. But I’d rather you argue with my arguments than with my CV.

  • Jeff:
    I hate it too. Much as you’d like to think you’re a citizen-journalist-new-media-regular-guy, your history says otherwise. You are a terrific blogger, don’t get me wrong – I read you every day and love your style and sensibility. Your crusade against the pinheads at the FCC should get you a chestful of medals in my opinion. But you’re not “one of us” citizen journalists for all the reasons Tom points out. You’re an A-list guy.
    Deal with it. And please stop the posing. It doesn’t become you. No one with your media experience and credentials can “aspire” to be one of the common folk.

  • Marc: Pardon me, but you sound a bit like the cultural revolution in Mao’s time, making the proletariat into the new exclusive class. I’m people, too. I don’t declare myself “a-list.” You said that. In the blogosophere, in fact, talking about an a-list is old media think, back to the days when only the one or two biggest could afford the printing press or the broadcast tower. That is mass-market-think. And that is over. Now we are all equal, we’re all just people. That’s the point. Dan Rather is no beter than you or me. He may think he is. By this rationale, you may think he is. But I don’t. And I don’t think I’m any better — any more of an a-lister — than anyone else. So don’t put me apart in a room you built for me.

  • dfr

    I have to agree with Jeff. I don’t read this blog because of who he is or who he works for. I read it because he has interesting things to say. I don’t always agree with him, but its never dull.
    Before I started reading this blog, I had never heard of him. I was linked here by another blog, by a non-media person.
    In other words, the “credentials” of a blogger are not who he/she is or was, but what they have to say. If a blogger starts being boring or irrational, then he/she is history as far as my bookmarks are concerned, regardless of their professional chops.

  • Jeff -posted response over at my place – thought I’d drop it in here….
    Jeff – good points all – my basic point is that we’re all in media, especially the bloggers. The best bloggers are generally either media veterans or very media-savvy types who know what they’re doing, can gather an audience, make an argument, do some reporting, and write well. I don’t buy the citizens movement thing.
    So I probably have a hard time with a spokesperson for citizens media who is a veteran insider (as yes, I am as well, admittedly). Just doesn’t ring true, to me anyway.
    That said, I’ve always agreed it’s about the conversation – it’s the main reason I do my own blog, and participate in yours and others. I also agree that media is changing – heck, I’ve been making the argument that the “big boys don’t get it” since back in ’95, when Chervokas and I launched @NY on tnat very theory.
    Couple of quick things: no, don’t think you’re part of a right-wing conspiracy – but remain suspicious as to the source of the docs. Methinks CBS fell into a trap. Could be wrong, but predict that will be the biggest revelation of the long-awaited report; and it’s the way to salvation for CBS – to do some reporting on how the disaster happened.
    Finally, I guess I disagree on Rather himself. Sure, he’s flawed and arrogance pretty much defines “TV anchor” even if you have the aw-shucks-to-goodness of Brokaw. To be honest, I never really watched Rather much as an anchor – I gave up on network news’ half-hour a long time ago. But I do honor some of his fearless reporting through the ages – any journalist would. The guy had serious game.
    Plus, you are – to a degree – scoring him for a quality that you say you hold high in the very same post: a point of view. Rather clearly had one, and was relatively up front about it with Nixon, Bush, and others. Sure, he was on my side of political thinking – part of the charm and I’m here to admit it.

  • See… this is why I read you religiously Jeff. You’re a smart guy with something meaningful to say and you’re right – my comment was divisive. You’re also right when you reference the old “the power of the press belongs to he that owns one” economic model. Blogs have transformed the economics of information in a way nothing that has preceded them have.
    I’ve experienced four publishing revolutions during my career (I’m a recovering graohic designer). First came desktop publishing. Shortly after came the web. Then came digital printing. And now blogs. Each has redefined the economy of information profoundly, but nothing has the (potential) impact blogs do.
    The cost of entry into DTP was pretty high and excluded many who could not afford the tools. Web publishing is, to this day, a pretty technical undertaking. Digital printing, while making short runs of full color documents with near-press quality affordable, has all the limitations of any print medium. But blogs break down each of those obstacles. They’re cheap (free is pretty cheap), accessible to just about anyone (ever started a blog?), and have a viral quality print will never enjoy.
    So ultimately, everyone *is* on a pretty equal footing in the blogosphere. I’ve certainly seen enough “out of nowhere” writers gain some pretty fast recognition on the strength of their words and thoughts.
    I think you’re pretty spot on as far as Rather is concerned too. He has certainly suffered the consequences of media elitism.
    So thanks for setting me straight and keep on rattling cages.

  • Tom: I’ll join in back on your site.
    Marc: Thanks for the nice response. Yes, we’ve lived through the same revolutions and it has been a fascinating ride. Oddly, I hadn’t thought of the continuum quite that way until you raised it here.
    – I first saw hot type to cold type. It changed design — or what we now call the UI — and product and economics.
    – I was lucky to be around for the first computer editing systems and that changed the way I write — from writing to editing, really — and, of course, that, too, changed the economics.
    – Desktop publishing was, of course, huge. My wife created a very brave and aggressive use of Macs when we started Entertainment Weekly; it was the first big, weekly, all-Mac effort and, of course, it changed the look of publishing (at first, though, we couldn’t rotate photo credits!) and design and, again, economics.
    What interesting about those is that they changed the business of publishing.
    What’s so exciting about this, the next revolution, is that it changes the relationship with the folks once known as the audience. And, again, the economics. And this is the most exciting by far, eh?
    I’m enjoying the conversation. Thanks.

  • I agree with the change – but do not see the revolution fellas, certainly not on the level of DTP/cold type and the Internet in general (of which blogging is a portion, not larger than). What’s great about blogs are 1. the conversation and 2. the software, which allows for easy communications in written form like we haven’t seen before.
    But you know for many people, the real revolution in their lives is cell phones, for others text messaging. We’re part of something larger (bloggers I mean); we’re not the big story. Sorry.

  • Tom:
    I agree that blogs are, as yet, nowhere as pervasive or high-impact as DTP. The fact is, the vast majority of folks are just now becoming blogs even exist (every reference on a West Wing does more than all the posts we make to raise that awareness level and the election certainly helped).
    I have a 20-year-old daughter with text-er calluses on her hand from TM’ing with her friends and I understand the depth of penetration into everyday life they have had for many people. Heck, a bunch of my peers are crack-berry addicts ;^)
    The difference, for me, is that text messaging and cellular interactions are, for the most part, ephemeral. Blogs, on the other hand, are forever (thanks to the Wayback Machine, Google, and other archivists).
    Ultimately, it is the non-stop growth and penetration of the public network and the commoditization of access that is making all of these revolutions possible.

  • Rathernot

    Tom’s not tolerating all the critical comments at his blog, or not so well as you, when confronted by opposing views. “I clearly love America more than you,” is a rather lame and arrogant rejoinder by TW to a dissenting poster. My 5 year old uses this ‘oh yeah, I’m smarter than you’ tactic on the playground to no better effect than Tom. You’ve been more than gentlemanly in this discussion, but Tom’s original post and followups disguise a hostile and defensive personality. And not much vision or hard analysis of the facts. Worse, he doesn’t seem to have much insight into the blogosphere, not uncommon these days from ‘progressives.’ I’m seeing a lot of this in the last two years from these Nation folks. Of course, Tom probably IS better and smarter than me…I voted for Bush. But I’ve also been a writer for 30 years and probably lost a few more brain cells than T man at too many writers’ pubs, though, if I were to use his style of argumentation, I might point out that maybe I started with a few more than he!

  • Gary B.

    Jeff, because of my disgust with the MSM’s assault of Bush and our troops, I’m pretty sure I clicked on a link from a repbulican blogger to get to your site. I voted for Bush too. And because I seemed to agree with so much of what you were saying I probably didn’t realize you were a democrat until you said you were voting for Kerry.
    If the MSM had more democrats like yourself working for them, I doubt liberal bias would even be an issue.
    Chris Matthews didn’t bother to even skim through “Unfit For Command” before he invited John O’Neill onto his show and called him a liar.
    Last night Matthew’s had Amy Goodman from NPR on his show and she was all in a hissy because the MSM didn’t prevent Bush from taking us to war in Iraq. And she used Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger as proof that Preisdent Bush had lied to the public about the reasons for going to war and Matthews proudly told her she had laid out a solid case against Bush.
    Again, if Amy or Chris would’ve ever bothered to pick up a copy of the 9/11 commissions intelligence failures report, they would have read that Joe Wilson didn’t discredited the charges that Iraq had sought large quantities of uranium from Niger, he actually confirmed them?
    But even Joe Wilson still thinks he debunked them, so what can you do?
    Unfortuantely, Dan Rather’s memogate style of reporting is probably widespread in the MSM, and it’s a systematic process of how they edit, omit and create the information they collect on a story before they present it to their viewing audience as unbiased and strictly based on facts.
    Reading military blogs and Iraqi blogs proves to me that the MSM isn’t reporting the war honestly and they certainly don’t try to balance their coverage either.
    It makes them look just as foolish as Dan Rather did with “Memogate”, but they still insist that we’re the one’s who are wearing rose colored glasses to a horror flick.

  • Unfair Rathernot – and closed minded. You fall too easily in the false “elitist left” stereotype that your GOP sales force is selling. Not surprising, in Coulter-like fashion, you’ve presented that quote entirely out of context – it was a moderately tongue-in-cheek response to an attack from a guy who objected to my posting the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq. His response – “Post the deaths in Afghanistan…if it doesn’t shoot too many holes in your ‘I hate America’ meme.”
    Yeah, like I hate America – like everyone who is center-left “hates” America. Such drivel is, on the surface and in its depths, patently un-American and inherently cowardly from an intellectual standpoint. It’s a South Park manifesto – heh heh heh heh, liberals hate this country, heh heh heh heh.
    So yeah, when someone comes at me from that point of view, I’m not gonna waste my remaining brains cells (I guarantee I’ve lost as many as you at the pub, my friend) with an in-depth response. I’m gonna call it stupid, thin, and lazy – and move on.

  • This sort of summed up the Jeff Jarvis Experience for the past year or so for me: (from a rightie) – “because I seemed to agree with so much of what you were saying I probably didn’t realize you were a democrat until you said you were voting for Kerry”
    I don’t like Rather either. Hardly ever watch him. I certainly don’t look at him as any sort of liberal who’s looking out for my side, certainly not the way a “straight” anchor like Hume works for the Republicans. The past year has taught me that the media is so much in the thrall of the right now that it takes an extraordinary Dem to break through the fog. Clinton did it. Gore and Kerry couldn’t. To celebrate the addition of more obscurity to the fog in the form of bloggers seems like lunacy to me.

  • Oliver – excellent (although partisan) observation. Thing is, Jeff admires partisanship in blogging (as do I – and for the same reasons: effectiveness and transparency) but dislikes any sort of tilt (toward sanity?) in “big media news reporting.” If we stick with moral relativism, our nation will not survive. It’s that serious.

  • ive never liked Rather – im as liberal as the come – never could see how he was a ‘librul’ – ok maybe he’s good on civil rights issues, but he’s….. he just corny! like annoyingly fake corny. as if he knows he’s long been disconnected from whatever he’;s trying to be yet tries to convince you that he’s still it – that kind of corny.
    if ‘librulism’ is supposed to mean elitist snobbery – then I guess I can see how Rather was a liberal – but has a corpo news hack like the rest, in my opinion.
    but he’s just CORNY! grrrr!

  • Mark Jeffries

    Gary D:
    Amy Goodman doesn’t work for NPR–she works for herself, with her show “Democracy Now!” primarily being distributed by Pacifica. (Pacifica used to produce it until their last humongous intercine war of a few years ago.) The show is heard on a few NPR members, but it’s primarily on Pacifica stations or Pacifica-inspired “community” stations that are generally more openly left-leaning than NPR.
    And if you said to Goodman that she’s with NPR, she’d beat the crap out of you–she considers NPR just as big a bunch of sellouts as the rest of what she calls “corporate” media.