Now public: newspapers are dead

Now public: newspapers are dead

Summary: Bambi Francisco of Marketwatch tells us that journalism is just a matter of "perspective". So we turn our perspective on her. And we find La Bambi on Pluto -- guilty of using "dwarf logic" in her justification of citizen media

TOPICS: Tech Industry

How much do we really want the average person to contribute to the newsgathering process, to politics and to the culture itself?" Bambi Francisco of MarketWatch asks.

I met La Bambi this week at the iHollywoodForum's Digital Media Summit in Hollywood's grand old Roosevelt hotel. She was on Michael Stroud's panel about "Citizen Journalism" alongside Leonard Brody, a founder of blogging aggregator NowPublic. With his rat-a-tat discourse, unshaven cheeks and thick thick glasses, Brody was perfectly cast as a humorless media revolutionary -- the blogging version of Leon Trotsky (this was iHollywood, after all). And he spoke like one too. In one memorably glib sentence, he announced the death of newspapers. Print news is history, he announced, with all the dialectical certainty of a reincarnated Trotsky. Finished. As dead as John Cleese's parrot. And what will replace them? Brody-Trotsky had the answer. Blogs, of course. Citizen blogs. The kinds of barely informed, amateur "journalism" that infects worthless sites like NowPublic. 

The scary thing is that this kind of nonsense is seductive. Take La Bambi, for example, who should know better than flirt with Brody-Trotksyism. But, like a schoolgirl in the throes of an adolescent crush, she appeared infatuated by citizen journalism. In her MarketWatch piece, the wide-eyed La Bambi questions the value of established media. She describes Brody-Trotsky as "eloquent" and, sounding more like a bimbo blogger than an elite journalist, the MarketWatch correspondent refers to a "famous recent case at the New York Times" (Judy Miller?) which supposedly reveals the intrinsic unreliability of mainstream media. Oh yeah? Just like the James Frey scandal showed that all authors everywhere are liars or the George Bush idiot-presidency reveals that every politician in the history of mankind was a moron. 

It gets worse, I'm afraid, quite a bit worse. To question the authority of experts, La Bambi lands her spaceship on Pluto. Yes, that's right -- Pluto. She argues that the reclassification of Pluto into a "dwarf-planet" should make us suspicious of scientific experts  -- everyone, I guess, from Kepler, Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Steven Hawking:

 For years, we were all led to believe what scientists -- presumably learned or at least smarter than the average Joe -- said about Pluto, which is that it was a planet. Now we're told that it's not true. Pluto is a "dwarf planet."

And then, inevitably, La Bambi retreats to a mindless relativism -- Web 2.0's dwarf logic -- in distinguishing between amateur and professional media:

 "Indeed, it's different, but that doesn't mean it's false. It's just a different perspective."

A different perspective, eh, La Bambi? If you want perspective, why don't you acknowledge the central role of the Washington Post's Dana Priest and Anne Hull in exposing the scandal at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This wasn't done in the cyberswamp by Brody-Trotsky's citizen reptile army. No, It was done by two professionally trained journalists, latter day Woodward-Bernsteins whose crusading journalism provided all American citizens with perspective.

So what is to be: Priest-Hull or Brody-Troksky? Newspapers or blogs? La Bambi or La Bimbo? Ignorant amateurs or informed journalists?

I dunno. It's all a matter of perspective, innit?

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Apples and Oranges

    The comparisons should be between blogs and newspapers, and between professonal journalists and citizen journalists.

    I have a hard time eating breakfast with a PC on the table instead of a newspaper. And I certainly can't take a PC into the bathroom to read it (much less use the PC to wipe my butt in case the latrine is out of toilet paper.) I can read a newspaper on take-off and landing and not have it confiscated by airport security either. Hardcopy still beats the PC hands down for portability.

    Professional journalists have the training and credentials that can get them into places that citizen journalists can't. Professional journalist's columns are, on the average, far more accurate, brief, and concise (i.e. are readable, make sense, and don't ramble on forever) than citizen journalists.

    A citizen journalist may know something that the professional does not, but only if they were actually present or did more research. However, most blog I've read are only derivitive in nature. They NEVER seem to have a scoop on the professional news; with the exception of cases where a news release was supressed by the government. (Yes Virginia, the government in the U.S. does violate the First Amendment whenever they think it's in their best interests and think they can get away with it.)
  • Truth is somewhere in between, as usual

    Enjoyed your perspective. Apparently the panel succumbed to their 5 minutes of fame on stage in Hollywood. To me, the truth on this issue is in the middle. Newspapers are struggling for readership, but are not providing the customization or focus that the blogs can give. I think that the future probably holds something closer to full personalization of news. Early attempts that I'm enjoying are customization of Yahoo and Google home pages, with feeds from both world news sources and blogs. On the home front, I've created a custom tuned environmental blog for my home territory, the Olympic Peninsula. There just was no aggragator for the dozens of projects, news, and events. While the jury is out as to whether my site will be successful, I think that having better and smarter aggragation (sp?) of personal interest, is probably the model that will ultimately out. I don't want to be competing against my local newspaper for first hand reporting. But I don't want them dictating my news.
  • Proofreading, anyone?

    Caste? Steven Hawkins? Stephen Hawking, maybe?

    It's an excellent piece but the silly errors demonstrate another reason to avoid writing masquerading as journalism.
    • Newspaper proofreading is bad also.

      I count an average of 5-6 spelling or grammar errors a day in our local (professionally edited) newspaper, so does that mean their articles are worthless too?
  • Use some common sense.

    I am one of those professionally trained journalists and I also appreciate the power of blogging. But, I still believe that most people have enough common sense to use both mediums (print and electronic) to form an informed opinion on important subjects. I still hope that "the average person" who only accesses print media are intelligent enough to consider more than one side to an issue and question the source of the information and those who choose to use only electronic media for their information are not elitist enough to believe everything on a blog is factual. I think the "average person" who cares enough about news and information to pay attention to it at all, falls somewhere in the middle, utilizing both mediums and using their common sense to sort out the facts. But, maybe I still believe in faeries.
  • If their lips are moving......

    their lying. You cannot believe any of them. Even this one falls for the characterization of George Bush as an idiot. Any argument about his MBA or his accomplishments is discounted with distain by the Bush haters. Such over simplification and politicizing of issues obscures whatever facts can be gleaned and lowers the tone of discourse. The only thing that you can be sure of is that they are all lying, to some degree. I resent the implication that everyone thinks President Bush is an idiot and I find the assumption idiotic.
    Kyser Soze
    • Love it when right wingers speak on integrity.

      Bush said "500 tons of VGX"
      Bush said "Significant quantities of Uranium"
      Bush DID drive all three companies he owned into destitution.
      Bush DID get preferential treatment during his desertion (Boston Globe, 1999).
      And death rates in Iraq are higher than anytime in the last three years.
      You really need to quit reading NewsMax and Drudge.
  • What "profession?"

    One question is the nature of the profession of someone who writes in the "news" media? I have seen some fine examples of in-depth research and reporting, like a report on the Clintons' multifarious financial dealings in the [i]LA Times[/i], but that is the exception. Within my first-hand experience, they either get the facts wrong or miss their significance entirely. Too many "news" writers today seem to think their job is to tell us what to think about the issues, so selective omissions and propaganda techniques on the front page are just fine. How many people know that civilian deaths in Bagdad are down about 60% since the start of the troop surge? I found that story on page 12 of the Richmond VA paper. At least bloggers tell you up front about their biases and agendae.
  • smarter than a 5th grader

    Put her on "so you think you're smarter than a 5th grader" - bet she don't make it past the first round
  • smarter than a 5th grader

    Put her on "so you think you're smarter than a 5th grader" - bet she don't make it past the first round - 'disin Steve Hawking - what a wench