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The Tentacle


April 16, 2012

Legacy-Journalism becomes Bloggers Opportunity

Steven R. Berryman

Lately it occurred to me that the “blogosphere” is working as planned, allowing for collaborative networking and for the bubbling up of ideas and concepts that can – by design – only come from sources outside of the old world media empire that some know as “mainstream media,” and others know as “legacy-journalism.”

 

Had I relied on a dalliance with the L.A. Times or CBS’ 60 Minutes for an insightful glimpse of changing journalism, I would have been left out of this conversation and conclusions impacting “news” about journalism’s demise (from the legacy side) and of the ripeness of opportunity, from the blogosphere side. Perspective from within the old grand news and information sources surely cannot report on itself with impartiality!

 

Highly-paid old guard monopolists from The Washington Post and The New York Times – and their media critics – behave as if they have something to lose; they do. Having few writing slots available in finite papers, for instance, there is little room for joining-in or moving up the ranks by newcomers. Big dollar paying positions are rare.

 

This has allowed for a concentration of power and influence that used to pay big dividends (sometimes funneled via advertising choices) when political endorsement time rolled around!

 

One way the media elite’s power is preserved is a function of the intentionally limited space given a page or column of print. This makes inclusion and omission a commodity worth bargaining for.

 

Agenda driven, partisan talking points make their way into columns for reasons that appear random…to the uninformed.

 

Related forms of legacy journalism – network news – can use the high-tech edit for similar control of a critical and politically charged news item.

 

In stories without a direct interest conflict between audience and producer, an inconvenient edit can utterly manipulate content, as in Florida’s drama between television’s NBC, Trayvon Martin, and the Neighborhood Watch. Word continuity does matter. This producer was caught omitting qualification questions by police. Thanks to a check from the lesser-paid media, and his efforts were checked by a termination.

 

But just imagine what they have not been catching!

 

Print media makes it even easier to manipulate and concentrate perceptions into a power matrix; again, the choices of omission versus amplification – let alone distortion (aka spin) – is justified by a finite number of pages used to rule, unobstructed.

 

What is left out is typically not detected by the audience; we have come to attribute honesty to a legacy-born feature in print automatically without information to the contrary, especially from a legacy “gray lady.”

 

By contrast, when was the Internet ever out of bloggers that ran out of items of interest to fully explore and evaluate with extreme prejudice and share with each other; this feature is also quite searchable? When was an item left out of a blog because the Internet ran out of bits on a computer file, or became censored by a laptop screen that was too small and ran out of pixels?

 

When you hear the term legacy-journalism, think: What had been a power-centric monopoly is now elapsed ego struggling for survival and relevance in a lightening fast news world.

 

Think several years back: Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at a Super Bowl halftime show headlined on TheDrudgeReport.com six minutes after the event. Edited and blurred coverage showed up on print 24 hours later.

 

Real friend Clint Brown (as opposed to Facebook norms for this slippery definition) shared an online entry published on my birthday “When Losers Write History,” subtitled: Why legacy-newspaper media reporters get their own industry so wrong, posted by editor-in-chief of Reason Magazine, Matt Welch, and adapted from a chapter inWill the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It,” Robert W. McChesney, editor.

 

New media and Facebook-blogging presented this analysis to me, reaching back to 2011 and information just as relevant this day; today’s equivalent of passing along a newspaper clip at the office.

 

This item features “dour predictions” of the future of journalism from the perspective of a shrinking insider-class, while – by contrast – many who research and rehash for fun on blogs eclipse the necessarily limited thought processes of the former. Amateurism in journalism-blogging makes up for rough burrs via enthusiasm alone. Variety and quantity make up for slick refinement and eloquent verbiage, especially as the blogs are searchable for rare content.

 

Among those just a few degrees of separation from a stories center, it’s not so much about the money; it’s about the “truth,” especially to an avid activist, as the inner drive produces a passion for research, itself amplified by skimming the Net.

 

When I challenged a learned Washington Post “subscriber for life” about the collapse of legacy journalism in favor of a new order, he insisted that the years spent determining the institution’s slant made it acceptable to continue mainlining news and information the old way.

 

Understood, but the new news-business is a collaboration now. Papers are investing heavily in the multi-sourced tie-ins by bloggers as well. My Facebook home page contains an application that shows others exactly what I have decided to read. Many features and columns have an ability to feedback to the author and to allow fellow second-tier commentors to “get at each other,” further distilling points that may have been left out due to omissions.

 

As the ability to concentrate words and cash-in on power via the printing press is replaced, fret not. The expanding universe of ideas as tools for expanding society has never been so open and ripe for the fresh-minded!

 

The full link to the article as it appeared April 8th in Reason.com is: http://reason.com/archives/2012/04/08/when-losers-write-history/singlepage.

 

Please print this out, if you are a legacy-reader, and take the time to digest it!

 

srbmgr@gmail.com

 



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