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.

  • I love this blog most of the time, but I have to say that you’re starting to come totally unhinged, Jeff.
    Blogs don’t need mainstream media. Mainstream media needs blogs.
    What can you really say to somebody who can sit down and type those words in a serious fashion? That is, IMO, a false statement. Unless you are talking about personal journals where people do nothing but discuss their dating lives and post pictures of their iguana (and I’m very sure you aren’t) then we are discussing political and news oriented blogs. They almost exclusively get their news stories from the various MSM outlets online, transcripts of television shows, news conferences, etc. None of these bloggers (or almost none) are showing up at scenes of breaking news, interviewing important government figures, being invited to Washington press conferences, or traveling to Iraq. Without the MSM, virtually the entire spectrum of news and political blogs would dry up and blow away in a few days.
    As to the cooties, it’s good to see you acknowledge that you are still, in fact, part of the MSM. And unlike some others, I don’t level that as an attack on you or an accusation. It’s good to have people on the inside talking about these things. But, as such, your relationship with the MSM and their attitude towards you is very, very different from the vast majority of bloggers. I can’t help but think this tends to skew your opinions and observations a bit.

  • Jazz… Old arguments long since argued over. Note that I’m saying that I fear people throwing out mainstream media and its journalism; I don’t want to see that happen. Note also that I’m referring just to this exchange; obviously, blogs need mainstream media or they’d have nothing to blather about. Obviously, not all blogs are about dating lives; you’re at one. I am saying, though, that mainstream media has become too separated from the public it serves and needs to listen to the public. Blogs are the means for the public to speak. And it’s mainstream media that needs to learn to listen.

  • Mspell

    Blogs let me explore my thoughts further on any topic I chose
    MSM throws out a thought they choose then moves on to the next
    The next day the same thought and on to the next
    and I with no idea what it could mean other than what the MSM says it means becomes a zombie
    David Weinberger’s words were just right
    I QUIT

  • What amazes me about this conversation is how nobody seems to mind that the aggregate result of your evangelizing about blogs is absolutely reactionary. You’re actions do not point to a desire to turn the media structure upside down and create a new economy of ideas. You’re more interested in taking the phenomenon of blogging and turning it into another tool for the status quo. You’re telling them that it’s OK to blog, that they can make money out of it, that they won’t loose market share. This may be good business strategy but it makes for bad politics.
    I say this because a lot of the people that have built the blogosphere identify themselves as progressive, democrats, leftists. You even describe yourself under these categories — I mean, you did vote for Kerry, right?
    Well, a libertarian stance on the FCC is not the measure for your politics. When it comes to presenting the phenomening of blogging, you’re real political inclinations come out and they are not what you insist they are.
    Jeff, there is nothing more conservative and reactionary to gush over LaShawn Barber and then not have someone like Kim Pearson of Professor Kim’s News Notes or Pamela Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend as counterpoint. But, they’re not in your comfort zone, to capture Chris Raab’s call-out phrase. For chrissake, I am not in your comfort zone and we cross paths in some of these blog panels and share some of the same colleagues. If you really were thinking from a progressive point of view, your choices would be different and you’d ask people like me who to include as a counterpoint to the right wing bloggers.
    That’s why I helped create the Brown Bloggers meetup series, spear-headed Blog Sheroes and am on the board of the BlogHer conference. To promote and network the abundance of progressive minority and women talent in the blogosphere.
    There is no nice way of me saying this, but the way you’re selling blogs as broadcasting tools for the MSM makes you a tool of the right. Your intentions may be on the left, but your practices are extremely ensconced in the right Jeff. I have already pointed this out to you in reference to your use of the word terrorist. That’s why, and unfortunately, when Schockwellenreiter called you a “multi-purpose blogging weapon for the conservatives”, I have to agree with that. You’ve gone into the dark side and you’re loving it.
    So come back to the left Jeff. Come back.

  • Old Grouch

    Executive summary of Liza’s post:

    Jeff doesn’t quote or promote the blogs that I want him to. That makes him a reactionary and a tool of the right.


  • Brian H

    The MSM has corrupted many standards, including orthography and syntax.
    “loose” =/= lose
    “You’re” =/= Your
    “phenomening” =/= phonomenon
    “you’re” =/= your [again]
    “women talent” =/= women’s talent [or SLT]
    “way of me saying this” =/= way for me to say this
    “extremely ensconced” =/= deeply ensconced
    Perhaps this kind of sloppiness is acceptable or de rigeur among the Troo Beleevers, but it’s not much of a recommendation for the quality of your thinking, which needs every prop-up it can get.

  • Mspell

    Brian H
    Do we use a product because of the way it is boxed,
    or do we use a product because of what is in the box?
    I do believe that, we read or even write to convey a thought or an idea
    Not how it is boxed.