American newspapers, including the Gray Lady, seem to be in for bad times, and I'm not surprised. For one thing, too many people have discovered that:
- The New York Times is New York City's hometown paper, with a rather parochial world view
- Many of America's traditional information gatekeepers - including newspapers - are not entirely trustworthy
"Can America's paper of record survive the death of newsprint? Can journalism?"
My best guess is:
- The New York Times will be around ten years from now
- Journalism is going to change
"Ultimately, the death of The New York Times—or at least its print edition—would be a sentimental moment, and a severe blow to American journalism. But a disaster? In the long run, maybe not."Fitch Ratings service:
"Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010."
- The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
- All those
- Right-wing bloggers
- Moderate bloggers
- The Internet
On the other hand, I suggest a fourth suspect: traditional newspapers themselves.
I think a case can be made for viewing The New York Times as a hometown newspaper: and an insular one at that.
For generations the Gray Lady has given residents of New York City's boroughs news of their town, and of the world. All filtered through the world view of proper yankee gentlemen, and people who wanted to fit in. (More, in "The New York Times, Insularity, and Assumptions" (October 21, 2008)) As I said in that October post, "trouble comes when a person - or a news service - has a parochial point of view, and doesn't realize it."
Just one problem. The letter was a fake. The New York Times apologized, after France-Amerique broke the story: on its website. Turns out, The New York Times staff is supposed to "verify the authenticity of every letter" - but didn't in this case.
I can't help but think part of the reason for this SNAFU was that The New York Times staff considers the workings of New York State politics - specifically, the issue of "Caroline Kennedy's bid for the seat of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton" - something that would naturally be of interest to just about everybody. Even the mayor of Paris, France. And so, saw nothing odd about the message.
may have helped Barack Obama get elected. I think John Ziegler's got a point.
Publicity for the documentary includes an interview with Sara Palin. Among other things, the Alaska Governor said:
" 'When did we start accepting as hard news sources bloggers?' she asked. 'Anonymous bloggers especially. It is a sad state of affairs in the world of the media today - mainstream media especially - if they are going to rely on anonymous bloggers for their hard news information. Very scary.' " (FOXNews (January 9, 2009)Those words about the "sad state of affairs in the world of the media today" are what got me started on this post.
Those reporters, who know the difference between fact and opinion, and who know how to research a story, won't go away.
Although they may not be working for The New York Times.
I prefer to assume that major news services don't have a policy of publishing inaccurate information. Their interpretation of the information may, in my view, be wack: but that's another matter.
And, I do what many reporters don't appear to: I track stories back, to as close to their source as I can. And, as far as I am able, verify the facts. information gatekeepers. For generations, reporters, editors, studio executives, and college professors had firm control of what the rest of us saw and read. And, they were the ones who, by and large, told us what we were supposed to think about what they presented.
That was then, this is now.
The Internet and other information technology has upset the gatekeepers' applecart. Today, "...just anybody with Internet access could get published. And heard." Quite a few bizarre ideas get published. But I don't think that they'll succeed in the marketplace of ideas.
America's traditional gatekeepers kept Americans from being distracted by people who believe that Nero was working for the Christians. But, they also made sure that what we read and saw of world events was 'properly' filtered.
'Properly' from their point of view, of course.
Many traditional gatekeepers are honest and, I think, sincere in their efforts to present a clear, accurate, view of the world. Just the same, particularly in the more 'intelligent' American subcultures, there's a set of assumptions that seems to demand - and get - more respect than others. Some of the major ones are:
- America is
- A racist oppressor
- To blame for most of the world's ills
- Capitalism is bad
- Religion kills people
I'm glad to live in the Information Age, where it's much easier to find - and publish - alternative views.
"Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essentially that public opinion should be enlightened...."Related posts:
George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
From Digital History, Gilder Lehrman Document Number: GLC 2557
- "America to Unilaterally Attack Somalia!"
(January 8, 2009)
- "Hamas, Palestine, Israel, and How to Seem Sophisticated"
(January 3, 2009)
- "New York Times Prints Ersatz Letter, or All the News That's Fit to Fake"
(December 22, 2008)
- "The New York Times Banned in China"
(December 20, 2008)
- "William Felkner vs. College Conformity: Traditional Information Gatekeepers Face Another Challenge"
(December 16, 2008)
- "Baghdad's Palestine Hotel Open for Business: Nothing to See Here, Move Along?"
(November 16, 2008)
- "International Monetary Fund Allegedly Hacked - And It's Not News"
(November 14, 2008)
- "Bush Approves Secret Orders! Warrantless Wiretaps! Liberties in Danger!"
(November 10, 2008)
- "News Media Tone and Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin: There's a Difference"
(October 22, 2008)
- "The New York Times, Insularity, and Assumptions"
(October 21, 2008)
- "Obama's a Radical Muslim; McCain's a Racist: Facts, Mud and the Anonymous Expert"
(October 7, 2008)
- "Russia and Georgia is America and Iraq: Everybody Knows That!"
(August 16, 2008)
- "Haditha, Iraq; My Lai, Vietnam: This Isn't the Good Old Days"
(July 13, 2008)
- "DC Gun Ban, Online Censorship, Individual Rights, and Power to the People"
(June 27, 2008)
- "Committee to Protect Journalists Unveils the Impunity Index"
(April 30, 2008)
- "American Academic Institutions: Impartial, Neutral, Nonpartisan, Dispassionate"
(April 29, 2008)
- "The Effect of Information Technology and Media Preoocupation with Urban Events on the Relative Sophistication of Urban and Rural Populations"
(April 13, 2008)
- Not as stuffy as the title makes it sound: This discusses the stereotype that assumes city folk to be knowledgeable, up-to-date, and broad-minded, while the dangerously narrow-minded country folk are ignorant and decades out of touch with current events.
- "Global Patriot Incident: No News,
But Lots of Opinions"
(April 7, 2008)
- "Palin: Katie Couric 'Not the Center of Everyone's Universe' "
FOXNews (January 9, 2009)
- "Five Things Google Could Do For Newspapers"
Wired (January 9, 2009)
- "End Times"
The Atlantic (January/February 2009)
Videos, articles, promoting John Ziegler's upcoming "Media Malpractice" documentary
- "John Ziegler"
Big Hollywood (undated)
- "End Times"
The Atlantic (January/February 2009)
"...The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind. And it will seriously damage the press's ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy...."