may 5

Don't Be Evil? Suck Less?

Technology Review has a manifesto on how to save newspapers. Update: Good comment, inside. I completely agree that about the notion of expertise within journalism being mostly bunk (especially in the form of host or anchor), but I'm not sure if I'm willing to go so far as to imagine that big media serves no purpose.


And here's what I posted in the comments section:

Why should we want to "save the media?" Why should we even care?

Is there any special reason why newspapers or magazines should survive? Is it because if people don't pay for content, there won't be any good content?

That's a preposterous notion. I can get fabulous content about the Supreme Court from SCOTUSblog -- I don't need Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse to mediate for me. I certainly don't need the Supreme Court reporter for Time, Newsweek, or, heaven forbid, The San Francisco Chronicle.

As for local news? Well, not to worry. There will be folks taking up the slack there; there will be plenty of local bloggers with exceptional insight who will hold the feet of the local city council to the fire. War reporting? Thomas Ricks and John Burns will always find an audience. So will Michael Yon and Michael Totten.

Meanwhile, I thought Shirky's article was excellent except for one assertion -- that we need "journalism."

No, we don't. We don't need innumerate politically-slanted generalist mediators filtering ideas for us. We need EXPERTS talking to us directly. THAT's why Dan Rather and Mary Mapes and Eason Jordan were exposed for the frauds they were...because EXPERTS, not amateurs, were brought to bear on the problem.

The greatest myth out there -- to which you seem to subscribe Jason -- is that folks on the internet are amateurs, but those journos, they're pros.

Horse hockey. I don't care what David Leonhardt of The New York Times says about the economy. I do, however, care what Greg Mankiw or Nourel Roubini says -- and I can get their views, as they say about the best wine, unfined and unfiltered. These guys are the real experts. And they're out there in every subject area including yours--technology.

To newspapers and magazines -- the vast majority of which are intellectual wastelands as well as being biased to the left -- I say good riddance. Don't let the door kick ya in the backside on the way out.

posted by Karl K at 4:26 PM on May 6, 2009

Rex, "big media" as its constituted by Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the networks only serve one purpose now: to spoon out mediated content which is politically slanted.

The do have the resources, even in their current fragile state, to do exceptional work in both hard factual reporting and true in-depth analysis. And there are some good reporters there.

But the crap they put out continues to amaze. The New York Times should have on staff the smartest, most careful writers in the nation but who do they have? People like Gretchen Morgensen covering the mortgage markets, a woman for whom "incompetent" barely begins to describe her, ahem, capabilities. And how did Selena Roberts ever get a sports column in the Gray Lady? When her A-Rod book crashes and burn as so much hot air perhaps that will be the end of her journalist career. Somehow, I doubt it, as she will surface again like a bad boil.

No, the "big media" are like old gladiator who has finally met his match against the more agile, more advanced, smarter opponent. The crowd cheers. They await the signal of Emperor Marketplace. The hand is in the air.

In a few seconds, the thumb will point down. And most will cheer, and only a few, a very few, will shed a tear.

posted by Karl K at 5:35 PM on May 7, 2009

NOTE: The commenting window has expired for this post.