Mainstreaming media (continued)

Mainstreaming media (continued)

: As is his habit, David Weinberger started a fascinating conversation out of his decision to wipe off his TV makeup and leave the set of mainstream media. Here‘s his original post. Pay special attention to the comments there, including Jay Rosen‘s nattering dialogue with David. Here‘s my response to David. And in the comnents here, David responded in turn and here’s the juicy bit:

… – It’d be easy to pretend this is a simple situation: Bad MSM, good bloggers. And, frankly, at this point I do believe that the mainstream media’s values have been corrupted. So, taken as generalizations, yeah, sure bad MSM, good bloggers. But specific real cases are always complex. We have producers who are terrific people, and who may wish they could do more news and less crap. We have bloggers out to promote the blogosphere but in an environment where we don’t get to set the rules. We have the usual melange of human motivation, as Jeff so honestly declares. It’s complex, and simple reactions such as “Fuck ’em, I quit” can be betrayals of the complex nature of the situation. I had the flu and was presented with an egregious case of media pandering — the Jane Fonda spit fest — so I blurted out that this wasn’t for me. I reduced a complex situation to a binary choice. I’m not sorry, but I’m not proud either.

And I said:


I did not address the important issue you raised in your post — really, at the start of Jay Rosen’s socratic badgering of you in the comments there — and again in your response here. And it’s the real issue, of course:

Have “mainstream media’s values been corrupted”?

Well, uh, duh, yeah. See Michael Jackson, OJ, cable-news yellfests, witchhunts, local TV pyromania… everybody has a catalogue.

And you are not of mainstream media.

So correct me if I’m wrong, but here’s what happened: Touched by those MSM cooties and fearing contamination, you recoiled and shouted inside: “Let me out! Let me out! Before it’s too late!”

I, on the other hand, corrupted and cootied since age 17, recognize and live with those issues but find small joy in small change: “Bloggers on TV. Cool!”

The danger for a few of the commenters on your post — not you, and you specifically pushed this notion aside — is that they would reject mainstream media out of hand and wholly, throwing out the value of journalism along with its present-day folly.

The danger for me is that I ignore and add to the corruption: I answer the question, “What’s the blogosphere saying about Michael Jackson, Jeff?” and I take small — but still too much — pride in quoting you, as it so happens, asking: “How do the journalists there — people who got into the business because they are committed to an informed democracy — feel about this outlandish pandering?” Oh, I asked the question. I even told the folks in little boxes on the screen with me that you were talking about us. But I didn’t answer your question.

So that’s the danger: corruption and cooties extend into our new and virginal not-a-medium-and-we-still-don’t-know-what-to-call-what-ever-it-is: Bloggers, too, end up exhibiting the values of Michael-Jacksoned mainstream media. Let us out! Before it’s too late!

But, of course, as you well recognize, there is also an opportunity: Bridging the gap, the separation (Jay Rosen’s word), that has grown between the press and the public it serves. I believe blogs are the agent of that change, the bridge that can bring the press back to its public. And I believe they can do that best when they are heard. And that’s why I find small joy in the MSNBC segments and CNN segments and Business Week cover story: Citizens speak. For only 90 seconds, perhaps. On an often-odd list of topics that MSM still picks and agendas it still sets. With all the odd hoo-ha of TV and slick publishing. But in still small voices, they speak. And that’s good.

But let me make clear who wins in that exchange:

Blogs don’t need mainstream media.

Mainstream media needs blogs.