Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The News, Post MSM

Is Jonathon Kay right?

If the Natty Post and the NY Times were to disappear, could bloggers essentially take over, or would something be lost? I remember talking with someone (might have been Steve V) about waiting for National News Watch to update in the morning, because it supplied the news about which we bloggers could then opinionate.

Is he right? Is that all "we" do and, if the primary content providers go kerflooey, would we have anything to write about?

Well, as someone who, as well as exploring the intersection between "boobies and power", makes an occasional attempt to "break" news the MSM has missed, I think there are a couple of ways to go beyond mere editorializing.

1) Read everything on topic X and cobble together an Uber story, hoping that the whole will exceed the sum of the parts. For example, the saga of Tom Zytaruk and the Cadman tapes is really a detective story stretched out over several months and any number of news stories and blog posts. Reassembling the various pieces can actually provide insight and, if you make yourself aware of all that has gone previously, occasionally you can add a small piece or two that wasn't there before.

Of course, this depends on there being MSM content already in place.

2) Read everything, basically. I regularly scavenge the Blogging Tory sites, Lifesite, FreeD, and several dozen email lists and forums, in search of material that is not available elsewhere. Occasionally you do find stuff that has not yet reached the papers. I am particularly happy about these two posts, about how Mississauga Tories trash-talked their candidate Melissa Bhaghat on the Net for, essentially, being a ex-Liberal and not being an old white guy. The reason I am happy about them is that, about a week after the 2nd post, a story appeared in The Toronto Star that rehashed very much the same ground. This blog was not mentioned, but its pretty clear it served as one of the sources.

And when Anne Cools got booted from the Tory caucus, you read it first here. This kind of thing does not rely on a "real" reporter to do the work for you.

But what about Kay's main point?

Not to be old-fashioned, but there are certain kinds of important stories that simply cannot be covered, except by deep-pocketed traditional media organizations employing professional journalists.

Well, yeah. I can send an email off to people when I have questions. For example, Tom Zytaruk has replied and offered small insights to his story that I've not seen elsewhere. And I've occasionally had scientific luminaries like Tom Holtz and Terry Sloan lend their expertise to a blog post. However, that's about all I can do. I can't make long-distance calls, I can't physically go looking for anyone. Unless someone pays me to do it. I've offered my services to Macleans since they disappeared Steyn, but so far there's been no response.

Oh and legal liabilities, too. If you try to uncover facts, you occasionally get them wrong. I would love to huddle under the wings of a media conglomerate when this happens (although I also think this kind of protection leads to sloppy reporting).

What I would like to see is: the aggregator becomes the paper. Bloggers submit to the aggregator, which is now a commercial enterprise, and the aggregator pays the blogger directly, as well as providing legal insurance and etc. The reader visits the aggregator and goes directly to the writers they want to read, which constitute a fluid, ever-changing line-up.

Don't know how likely or possible a future like that really is, but its what I'd like to see...

10 comments:

Woman at Mile 0 said...

The NP is sheer, blatant conservative propaganda. Considering 66%+ of Canadians are not Conservative leaning its easy to understand why they can't attract new readers. The end could be avoided if/had they not been so stubborn and continued to operate that way. Progressives called this one years ago.

Ti-Guy said...

Of course, Kay's not going to touch on *the* issue where most of the rest of us find common ground; CanWest-Global's Borg-like assimilation of the hundreds of independent voices in this country who were being paid to do the type of investigative reporting he's, only now, worried about.

Let's also not forget The Post's campaign against news media that operates within a different paradigm than the one dictated by the profit imperative of corporate media; public media, in the form of the CBC.

It's far, far too late in the game for Kay to start warning us about the dangers of losing quality journalism; that's been happening for decades and there's no outfit more responsible for that than the media empire that pays his salary.

I'm not optimistic at all about what will replace it, since a technocratic solution per se won't eliminate the problems that always stand in the way of uncovering truth: that it's quite often incompatible with the bottom line, that access (without which a lot of reporting cannot be done) requires the cultivation of insider relationships that eventually force one to overlook issues that are properly in the public's interest and that it's inevitable that powerful interests will attempt to gain control over information as a matter of survival.

Not Gloating . . but said...

off topic but it is just to sweet to pass up

"-- Saskatchewan will lead all provinces in economic growth this year, while Ontario, the country's largest regional economy, will suffer through a difficult year, said forecasters at the Conference Board of Canada."

let's see BCL blogs in Ontario and SDA blogs in Saskatchewan.

Just coincidence, I'm sure

Reality Bites said...

Ironic, to say the least, ti-guy, that the NP has only operated in the realm of profit within its fevered imagination.

Doubting Thomas said...

another off topic comment, but somewhat related in the sense that mass media isn't necessarily the right wing censorship machine it is often portrayed to be. a few refreshing articles coming out on the beijing olympics and how china's bad etc...from who? no other than time warner inc. subsidiary sports illustrated.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/olympics/2008/writers/sl_price/08/06/cheek/index.html
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/olympics/2008/writers/selena_roberts/08/06/beijing/index.html?eref=T1

sorry, not sure how to do the fancy links. there is hope, people. the conservative menace has not won yet.

Ti-Guy said...

there is hope, people. the conservative menace has not won yet.

I'll believe that when the word conservative stops being synonymous with stupid, dishonest or obnoxious.

Paul S said...

"The NP is sheer, blatant conservative propaganda." wm0

Nonsense. It's hard to take "progressives" seriously when they make such vacuous postings.

"It's far, far too late in the game for Kay to start warning us about the dangers . . . blah blah blah . . . no outfit more responsible for that than the media empire that pays his salary." - ti-guy

More nonsense.

The soft, flabby left had a stranglehold on public discourse in Canada for decades. The arrival of the NP helped improve and enlarge debate enormously.

Ti-Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ti-Guy said...

It's far, far too late in the game for Kay to start warning us about the dangers...blah blah blah...no outfit more responsible for that than the media empire that pays his salary." - ti-guy

Paul S: Don't make me laugh with your strategically-placed ellipses.

The soft, flabby left...AS I IMAGINED IT IN THE MOISTEST OF MY DREAMS...had a stranglehold on public discourse in Canada for decades. The arrival of the NP helped improve and enlarge debate enormously.

Heh. No it didn't. But you're still cute as a button.

Paul S said...

Strategically placed ellipses? Gee, even I didn't know I was that good.