Monday, April 13, 2009

Media Insiders Say Internet Hurts Journalism (says "The Atlantic")

There's been a lot of news about the news lately - newspapers going under, what journalism in America should mean, blaming the internet, etc. (And who the hell are these "media insiders" and why weren't they identified?)

My opinion on it is pretty straightforward: the news media fell on its ever-loving ass during the Bush years (though they began the fall during the Clinton years).

Journalism hurt journalism.

It caved. It failed to report important story after important story. All of news became some pale version of Fox news. No one fact-checked except Al Franken. And, no one had the guts to openly mock Fox for even claiming Fox is a legitimate news outlet.

The far right has won the noise war for years, but they've never gotten past being blatantly biased as hell and playing to the choir rather than to anyone interested in the facts.

When Rupert Murdock took over "The Wall Street Journal" and immediately ignored the prohibitions he agreed to regarding the purchase, everyone should've immediately walked away and canceled their subscriptions.

The fact that Sun Myung Moon has had deep access to, and support for, the Republican party should be a weekly article in most papers. I mean, c'mon: a dangerous cult leader who's cult brought about deprogramming from brainwashing who also claims to be Jesus having that kind of access? How does the "Washington Times" even have subscribers and readers? Like Nancy Grace does with her missing kids, every serious journalism shop should have the daily announcement or scroll across the bottom of the page saying "Sun Myung Moon still in America, still attending Republican events" until the bastard is arrested or deported.

A local newscast report this week on the Obama's getting their dog finally, and the report said it wasn't a shelter dog as Obama "promised" it would be, thus yet one more campaign promise has fallen by the wayside.

Excuse me?


The guy didn't even blink or smirk to let us know that bit of "reporting" was a joke.

So, when the newspapers and TV reporters get back some guts and actually report facts and the news, things will begin to improve, but if they insist on coming off like Bill O'Reilly, they might as well take their fucking loofahs and go home.


Whisky Prajer said...

I'd argue that journalism started killing itself during the Reagan years. When Carter's knees buckled during the marathon, when his hostage rescue plan blew up in the desert, when conservative Hollywood came galloping to the rescue ... journalists breathed a hee-yoooooj collective sigh of relief. Just consider how long it took for Iran-Contra to gain traction: Reagan was rehearsing his final flight in Air Force One before Oliver North was subpoenaed. Man, those were eight long years.

yahmdallah said...

Good points, all. Yeah, they were. George the second's were longer.

I just saw something funny on regular news. They had a question out about Obama's proposed relations with Cuba, and some wingnut called in and just spewed all the Rush/Hannity garbage about Obama bowing to the Saudi dude, and the reporter sat there like a deer in the headlights. At the end, she reset and said the question was about our foreign policy with Cuba and moved on.

Dave Trowbridge has a great quote about about ideologues vs. realists:

Anonymous said...

All true, and all irrelevant. The reasons newspapers are dying are purely economic:

1) Newspapers' primary revenue stream has long been advertising. Classified ads and retail advertising insterts were the financial lifeblood of newspapers, and that is now pretty much gone. Classified ads have been gutted by Craigslist and the like, and retail inserts are being replaced by internet banner ads. This is absolutely killing newspapers' bottom lines.

2) People don't look to newspapers for news anymore. I, myself, get most of my news from the internet (,, and a long list of blogs), as do most other Americans. An actual print newspaper seems like day-old bread. For longer articles giving deeper analysis, I go to The Economist, the New Yorker (I actually subscribe to both) and, again, blogs. But not newspapers. I and about 200M other people. This is also killing newspapers.

Political bias has very little to do with it. It's all about advertising and reading habits changing. Although, if you just want to vent, this is as good a chance as any.


yahmdallah said...


Yes, I don't know anyone who uses classified ads in newpapers anymore. However, I know a lot of folks who still clip coupons from inserts.

On the flipside, I don't even look at internet banner ads.

It's true that the big problem printed newspapers have is currency since the internet can always win that game.

But, for years after web news got really good, I still looked to papers and magazines to do indepth stuff that was more than just talking points. Slowly, during the end of the Clinton years, then blatantly during the Bush years, they abandoned that, and real reporting vanished.

Tell you what. I'll read all the papers I can get my hands on for the next week about the so-called boston tea parties that happened today and see if any of them are honest enough to really delve into the history of such protests, and if they attempt to point out the hypocrisy of most of what I saw on the signs and speeches that I heard on the broadcast news channels, in that they're blaming Obama for their ills, and not the fucktard who really caused this mes. If at least two manage that, then I'll eat a little crow here.

Anonymous said...

One other issue hurting newspapers is the increasing tendency of political partisans to deliberately cocoon themselves. Republicans nowadays are likely to listen to news only from Rush Limbaugh and Fox, while liberals only pay attention to NPR and DailyKos. News sources that at least try to be balanced - like, for example, almost* all major newspapers - have a shrinking market.


* You're right, the WaTimes isn't balanced. But then, neither is the NYTimes, whose last endorsement of an R candidate for prez was Eisenhower. It's not as one-sided as you believe.

yahmdallah said...

Joel, re "It's not as one-sided as you believe." I admit there's always been bias, but it was just weird and extreme during the Clinton and Bush years, doncha think?

And, it's only one day, but the papers I checked today all mentioned that the teabagging from yesterday was astroturfing, and some even pointed out the corps. behind it. I heard crow can be ok with BBQ sauce.

Anonymous said...

Let us imagine that a huge conflict erupts between two major political groups, with one group saying that 2+2=5 and another saying 2+2=4. Almost any major newspaper nowadays would cover this story like any other political conflict: every story has to include quotes from partisans on both sides, lots of horse-race coverage regarding political gains and losses, and absolutely no hint or suggestion anywhere that one side might be correct and the other incorrect.

An exceptionally enterprising reporter might actually go to the math department of a local university and ask a professor what he thinks, and the professor will say "Two plus two is four, you moron!" And the reporter will write, "Academics are highly partisan on this issue."

This is the problem I see in mainstream media. It isn't political bias, though obviously there are individual examples of bias. No, the biggest problem is a complete unwillingness to state FACTS and stand by them. The only fact that most reporters recognize today is "This person said -". Nothing else is objectively true in the media, and this paralyzes reporting, renders the news useless, and probably explains why so many people favor blogs nowadays, since it is at least possible to find blogs that are trying to find the truth, as opposed to just repeating quotes from public figures. Good luck finding a major newspaper like that.

Though I still stand by my first posting here: The main reason newspapers are dying is loss of advertising. Their truth paralysis is a secondary issue.

yahmdallah said...

All great points though, and a great coinage of what I've seen: "Nothing else is objectively true in the media". Who'da thunk postmodernism killed the newspaper star?