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January 01, 2006

More Whining About Blogs From The New York Times

A kind of boring article, rescued only by the inevitable whining:

Danny Schechter, executive editor of MediaChannel.org and a former producer at ABC News and CNN, said that while the active participation by so many readers was healthy for democracy and journalism, it had allowed partisanship to mask itself as media criticism and had given rise to a new level of vitriol.

"It's now O.K. to demonize the messenger," he said. "This has led to a very uncivil discourse in which it seems to be O.K. to shout down, discredit, delegitimize and denigrate the people who are reporting stories and to pick at their methodology and ascribe motives to them that are often unfair."

Ittty bitty blogs are "shouting down" reporters are major media organizations? Really? Blogs have that kind of omnipresence?

Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said reporting on reporters had created a kind of "Wild West atmosphere" in cyberspace.

With reporters conducting interviews more frequently by e-mail, he said, "You have to start thinking a couple of moves ahead because you're leaving a paper trail. And the truth squad mentality of some bloggers means you are apt to have your own questions thrown back at you."

The "truth squad mentality"? This is a bad thing? And why should reporters -- who are only dedicated to getting all information to their audience -- have to worry about a "paper trail"? Are they doing something they'd rather not have people generally know?

And why shouldn't they have their own questions thrown back at them?

Is it just me, or is the sense of entitlement and superiority in these people noxious?

Some are starting to get it:

Reporters say that these developments are forcing them to change how they do their jobs; some are asking themselves if they can justify how they are filtering information. "We've got to be more transparent about the news-gathering process," said Craig Crawford, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly and author of "Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media." "We've pretended to be like priests turning water to wine, like it's a secret process. Those days are gone."

You won't be surprised that a senior CNN correspondent doesn't get it:

Jamie McIntyre, CNN's senior correspondent at the Pentagon, said the traditional skills of sifting through information and presenting it in context were especially vital now because there were so many other sources of information.

"With the Internet, with blogs, with text messages, with soldiers writing their own accounts from the front lines, so many people are trying to shape things into their own reality," he said. "I don't worry so much anymore about finding out every little detail five minutes before someone else. It's more important that we take that information and tell you what it means."

That pretty much sums up the problem. Reporters believe they have to provide "context," to explain to the audience what information means. They know full well, as they were taught this in J-school, that there are several narratives -- several slants, several "stories" -- that can be written about the same kernel of facts -- but they don't like having the slant they've chosen challenged by anyone else. They have a monopoly on the gathering of information, which is not in jeopardy-- you have to be on a salary to do that sort of work.

But their monopoly on the "contextualization" of information is threatened, and they're pretty annoyed about that.

Thanks to Allah.


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posted by Ace at 08:47 PM

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