February 15, 2005

MSM vs. Blogs: A Terminal Case of Writers' Envy?

Colossus the Forbin Project.jpg

JAY ROSEN AT PRESSTHINK ASKS WILL COLLIER @ VODKAPUNDIT A QUESTION.

" Let me ask you something, serious question, Will: Is the point to have a dialogue with the MSM or cause its destruction?"

Much is then heard from those of us in "Commentariat." My own response was, in essence, "Quite frankly, my dear Rosen, many bloggers don't give a damn one way or the other. Dialogue or destruction aren't the only possible points.":

The point could also be to merge with [MSM] or supplant [MSM].

Of course,[professional media] people could be getting upset because what used to a a single closed network of affiliations, social connections, professional associations, and a lot of nudge, nudge, wink, wink, now finds itself confronted with a much more open network of looser affiliations, social-network connections, and associations, that finds prating about professionalism without accountability noxious, with a lot of email, email, link link.

Another, perhaps deeper, source of unease among journalists collecting a check from a media company is the simultaneous revelation and discovery that there are a great many people who collect no check from any media company that are simply much better writers, editors, and checkers.

It was once the case that to assume the mantle of "writer" you had to get a job writing "for" something. Now all you need is a modem and a motive. And while I'll grant you that this means there is a lot of very bad writing swirling about, all that gets filtered out pretty quickly. What is astonishing to me is that, regardless of what subject you care to name, I can quickly discover a substantial number of people with a great deal of expertise in that area who are also quite good at expressing themselves.

And don't even get me started on the generalists....

Add to that the inescapable envy that must be felt by the "pros" as they note the vast number of online writers with solid skill sets who are also unconstrained by the "needs" and "policies" and "stylebooks" and all the other junk that media companies throw up around themselves to distinguish one apple from the next apple in the bin. Plus there's the freedom of telling it like you see it without worrying how this might affect promotion within or without the organization. On the one hand, yes, they do it for free, but on the other they are free to do it as they please. That's gotta grind like grit on the molars.

Put it all together and I don't think there's a drive to have a "dialogue" with MSM, because frankly dear Scarlett, most don't give a damn. I do think there's a yen to help MSM along to destruction but that's a fantasy ideology. MSM isn't going to any destruction that it isn't fashioning for itself. These little jabs may help it along a bit, but they aren't the determining factor.

What you've got is not some sort of battle to the death in a Hobbesian world, but simply a new species that is thriving in the online environment to an extent that MSM cannot possibly grasp, if for no other reason than that the people who still drive and direct the MSM from atop the corporations cannot, for the most part, type.

If you've ever seen the movie "The Forbin Project," you'll recall that it only got interesting when the rulers of the United States looked up and saw the message board above them begin to flash "THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM."


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UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has some parallel thoughts about writing and money at : Anonymous Grub Street

Posted by Vanderleun at February 15, 2005 9:38 AM
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Another, perhaps deeper, source of unease among journalists collecting a check from a media company is the simultaneous revelation and discovery that there are a great many people who collect no check from any media company that are simply much better writers, editors, and checkers.

NO. No change at MSM. Only start of big fight against editors, writers, secretaries, journalists,
janitors in one person-bloggers

Posted by: Milano at February 15, 2005 11:49 AM

As Hugh Hewitt says in his new book, "Blog," we are entering a transformational period as revolutionary as that of Marting Luther's time.

No longer could the Pope and the Catholic Church (Read MSM) control the free flow of the news of the day, human thought, creativity, science and information.

See The Power and Politics of Blogs - Blessed be for the Internet and the Blogosphere, Freedom . . ., and Geo-Political Strategic . . . in an anthology of essays at:

Link Here

Posted by: rpd1 at February 15, 2005 1:02 PM

Freedom is bliss, but only those who have a pure and total respect for truth will shine.

I read that fool at MSNBC Hardblogger (and sent an email telling him off) who's agenda of self-protection couldn't have been clearer. No respect for facts or truth, but simply a desire to keep making good money in liberal agenda setting.

He might make good money if he blogs to his choir, but he won't if he wants to keep the MSM in the business of egregious slanting of news and not covering what exposes liberalisms foolishness.

Posted by: mark butterworth at February 15, 2005 1:15 PM

A decent perspective, and one I've been pondering off & on recently.

I've long said to any who would listen that anything you wish to learn about is somewhere on the net. I've used it for learning web design, programming, networking, computer repair, new operating systems, foreign languages, etc etc. Its all there, if you're not interested in pr0n or games.

And the very same is true for news and current events. Its the transparency and immediacy that draw me. CNN may have been the first 24-hour news service, but it pales in comparison to having simultaneous on-the-spot average people acting as reporters all over the world.
And what was the reason CNN caught on, again? It had immediacy, though not enough transparency. Still, you felt that it had more of that than, say, CBS, at the time. No more.

Biggest/latest problem is the blog-for-pay thing. If it all remains a gift economy, things are a little more trustworthy. To my current viewpoint, anyway.
Maybe even that will change as paid bloggers get fed scoops and gift bloggers fact check and verify and amplify. If its all kept aboveboard it won't break. Too much.

Still, this newer aspect of blogging as a serious emerging enterprise: Its a curiousity in many ways, but also inevitable, just the latest incarnation of the old Temporary Autonomous Zone concept.

Posted by: urthshu at February 15, 2005 1:36 PM

I've some really off-the-wall questions:

Does anyone remember the 'promise of cable television'? What we ended up with, and why?

I just wonder if some folks in MSM and entertainment are spending long hours thinking "How did we miss this? Now, how do we put a leash on this?"

Posted by: P.A. Breault at February 15, 2005 4:22 PM

Nice piece. I think there is one additional force behind the obvious frustration of the MSM. They are, to an extent, more limited in what they can write and say. They have editors to please, profit motives to placate (surely most annoying) and a hidebound culture which binds them to their existing norms. They are not as free-wheeling as blogs and they cannot so easily undo, modify or disown a position once put out there. Thus, they are naturally slower and more cautious, which just weakens them more.

Posted by: roger rainey at February 15, 2005 4:29 PM

Does anyone remember the 'promise of cable television'? What we ended up with, and why?

I sure do. I remember being told that cable television would bring more viewing options, more points of view, and massive improvements in both quality and quantity of entertainment.

It delivered on all of that. Spectacularly well.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at February 15, 2005 7:55 PM

I wish I was wrong. However this is a war.WAR.
Right-left. Bloggs-MSN.
Horse on last legs is kicking. Guttenberg revolution
# 2 it could, be. But knowing this is not going to help shoot at enemy, or dig trenches. Optimism is good thing if is leaning on something. Do not forget
Big media- big money. Multi dinero multi fucky-fuck.
We are not talking, how nice is to have blogs. We must talk how nice would be to have blogs in 2015 or 2020.

Posted by: milano at February 16, 2005 9:33 PM

What's truly stunning about this struggle is that the MSM has had years to consider this new technology. It's taken them nearly 8 years to even acknowledge the existence of blogs. Even now, in 2005, it seems as though much of Big Media still thinks 'bury head in sand' is a workable approach.

Posted by: Dave Johnston at February 19, 2005 12:14 PM