Monday, August 28, 2006

The New Fourth Estate, Us ...

The Fourth Estate (the press) suffered a nice shiner yesterday. In a near two week masturbatory build-up over the Jon Benet Ramsey "killer" story, the "money shot" never came. A story that (at best) should have been in page two,- and over by day three-, got the best of the media beast. No DNA, no conviction, no collective 8 o'clock orgasmic blast on the evening news. A massive thud it was.

Ordinarily I never pay attention to anything of this type. No Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson or Natalie Holloway blurbs make my neck twist in attention. If I wanted that I can sprinkle a shredded National Inquirer to my mornin' corn flakes and just digest it. But this story made me think of the deeper failure of the press itself, and the change that the constant 24-hour news cycle has inflicted on all of us. I can go on for a few paragraphs on the history of media, the changes through the decades, and maybe some diatribe on the philosophy of news itself, and whether or not this is a reflection of our internal evolutionary psyche. Maybe another day.

What happened yesterday is not new. The media has been clinically lazy and intellectually guilty of not doing its homework for the necessity of feeding the monster. The need to fill 24 hours of news is not easy. How many stories of depth (and well produced ones at that) can they pump out on a daily basis?,.. not many; unless you have an investigative staff of thousands constantly churning out Woodward-Bernstein type yarns. And that is not likely in a bottom-line industry whose ratings are looked at and dissected with a microscopic ethos. They are, -simply put-, going to belch out as many sexy, titillating, light, bombastic and trashy stories as they can because the viewer has morphed from a "give-me-30-minutes-of-summary" audience to a "wow, this is better than Springer" lot with the attention span of a gnat.

Which brings me (finally) to the point of my post. We matter, yes we do. More so that we may ever know. This is not a self-congratulatory exercise on your humble correspondent's behalf. This is merely a way of saying that we, the blogger nation are THE insurgency of our time. Allow me to give you a few examples of what we did, that the media -in general-, did not.

1. Like it or not, Dan Rather would have gotten away with the whole GWB not going to his national guard unit story were it not for bloggers who called his mistakes and mis-reporting days before the MSM (main-stream media) got a hold of the critical mass and just belched it out, albeit kicking and screaming.
2. Think about it, Ned Lamont waxed the tail for an existing US Senator, with the unadulterated help from the netroot crowd,... us,... you! You may not have liked it, or maybe your were tickled pink with the results, but nobody, nobody saw this guy coming until he was rounding third.
3. More to the point, we were this close, THIS CLOSE, from having a candidate for the Democratic Party placed there squarely on the shoulders of the internet fund-raising prowess and the blogger nation bull horn. If the voters of Iowa had not had that singular moment of clarity (in the eyes of John Kerry anyway), Howard Dean would have run against Dubya in 04. Think about the ramifications of that!
4. Had the media done their homework, the real homework on this pervert A-hole (like a few non-distinct bloggers I read who did) they would have realized this man was a sick dillusional puppy who needed attention and wanted to get the hell out of Thailand any way he could. But nobody wanted to kill that cash cow; nobody wanted the stroking of the meat to end. None of the MSM power boys did what news is supposed to do; inquire, and ask the basics of journalism; who, what, where, when and why (and how if you have to get picky).
5. Nobody in the media, at least none that I remember, did any hard questioning in the build-up to both war campaigns in the post 9-11 time-lines. The networks has such the collective hard-on for blood and smart bombs coming at ya' in HDTV quality that they, and not Congress, did the real rubber-stamping of this war's go-ahead. We are at war in Iraq more because the media pulled it out of Bush's crotch region, and less because of the mostly stupid votes of 1oo Senators. I am all for eliminating evil from the planet,... but this war (with due respect to my brethren military men and woman) has not been our best moment, and clearly was not managed effectively from the start.
6. The word "swift boat-ed" has become part of the political lingo. Why?... once again a bunch of bloggers heard stories from John Kerry about his conduct (or lack thereof) during the war and called him on it. The results of the snow ball that ensued was lethal. Regardless of whether it was merited or not, THAT may have been the fulcrum point of his campaign,... just enough of a seed of doubt to his credibility was launched and made an uneasy independent voting block tilt towards Bush as November came around the bend. That event alone was undeniable proof of the power the blogger nation was gaining.

But do we matter? I think we do, but only if we hold each other accountable. Only if we keep the wikipeadias of the world from becoming our de-facto source of truth. We have the real advantage (so far) to not being beholden to advertising dollars, ratings or corporate board room politics. We only have us, ourselves and each other as judges and commentator-jurors to calibrate our craft. Our styles may differ, our language may convey the vestiges of our personalities, and our themes will vary from person to person and minute to minute, but as long as truth and fact are the standards, then we should be able to handle the success.

This is the first time in the history of the world that a commoner such as I can bellow to the world what I think, and (if I am lucky) the politicians will hear my trumpet and take note that my opinion as citizen of the world barks aloud. Let's not piss away this chance to correct the fourth estate. The genie is out of the bottle. The days of the news room having independence from the entertainment realms are gone. I'd like to think that I am part of the new gate-keepers. Those whose job is to keep truth afloat and sailing, ... even if I don't particularly like its course and heading.


benning said...

Good points all! I think many of us had suspicions regarding the falsity of Karr's 'confession', but we also would have liked to see the actual perp brought to justice. He remains a suspected child molester, thus he will not soon exit the penal system.

The MSM has lost much of its direction, thanks to the CNN template, and it's a mystery whether they can find their way back to the real world anytime soon. Rather and Swiftboats are, for me, the finest examples of the new paradigm of journalistic oversight. Traditional Media may loathe the newcomers, but until they figure out how to produce facts, outside the Lib/Left social engineering agenda, they will continue to be 'fisked' when they get the stories wrong.

Great post, T-P!

betmo said...

welcome back tp :) you hit this one right out of the park. you have accurately nailed the nagging problem of american media- the corporate need for ratings and profits. the plus of the blogging world is that we have access to foreign news- which tends to be more accurate. however, the net neutrality fight in congress threatens to stifle that. the big guns want more profit and to do that- they need control. the internet is the great leveller and the powers that be don't want a level playing field. status quo for them being on top of the food chain- is fine by them.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

I'm amazed that none of the MSM outlets--especially FOX NEWS--has put up a show specifically produced by an influential blogger.

As for your comments about the mismanagement in Iraq--the biigest flaw of the Bush administration which has brought us to this point in Iraq is that they have never countered the harmful distortions from a treacherous Democratic Party about the war!

Had this administration aggressivley countered the politically-motivated anti-war rhetoric from the beginning, things would be much better in my (cough, cough) humble opinion.

Still--you are correct! Bush has mis-managed things--my example being the worst example.

Publius said...

Welcome back. I guess this means it is time to kick up some more dust huh?

5th Estate said...

Hey TP! (Sorry, but you're just going to have to live with that abbv.)

That is one cra-azy post! I'm soo tempted to criticize huge chunks of it but I promise to behave myself.

You write: "This is the first time in the history of the world that a commoner such as I can bellow to the world what I think" .
It's not just what you think, but the distribution and the response and the immediate and traceble connection to the resources that support what you think. Knowledge is power but when knowledge is public the former monopoly of knowledge and thus power ceases to exist, and that is a threat to the status quo. So don't get too carried away with notion of personal power--the MSM and the politicians would like to co-opt blogging to re-establish the one way street of power that has enriched them thus far. They'd rather beat us than join us. These are heady, but still perilous times ( see Betmo's comment ).

Always On Watch said...

Off topic here...At my site you asked for permission to include my posting "SAT's, Genius, and Smart Pills" in a round-up. Go ahead! Glad you liked the article I put up.

Brooke said...

I take EVERYTHING the media says with a salt lick.

If their goal is ratings and profit, then I'm not even sure how they generate that. Obviously plastic men and women reading the news with hand-wringing melodrama... I can't take it!

Welcome back, TP! :D

msliberty said...

Wonderful, articulate posting, TP! I've even read it aloud to my partner just now and he loved it too!


5th Estate said...

BTW, in my pains to be brief for once I forgot to mention...I applaud your post (well, the last two paras actually). The ablity for ordinary citizens to "bellow" their opinions and have them read and responded to so quickly is remarkable ,unique in history and above all very important.

Well done.

Truth-Pain said...

You mentioned something I like,.. the CNN template. I was trying to remember if the template had changed since the early days of the CNN development, buy memory escapes me right now. Good point it is though,... Marshall Mcluhan said it best "the medium IS the message"

Thanks for the props,... now can you please tell Fifth Estate that my posting is not THAT crazy??? please???

Now THAT is something I've not thought about yet, although theres a few bloggers that I believe have their own shows, thought the blogs came AFTER the TV program and not the other way around.

Publius: !!
Long time! Are you stil create havoc in your neck of the woods?...
Yes, the dust us mighty thick here already, and I've but posted 2 little diddys!

Truth-Pain said...

5th Estate:
Greetings and salutations. What is so crazy about my posting? Seriously, I never want you to behave here (Ha!) quite the contrary, I want you to mis-bahave and tell me what it is that you think. Maybe we both use the word "crazy" in different context of definition, so a clarification on your part is appreciated.

First, let me say thank you for this, and your other comment down the line here. I think you have one of the keenest minds, and gifts of discourse I've yet to come across in bloggersville, that much is apparent to me and others I've shared opinions with. Having said that, I feel that you have a passion for inquisitiveness and disection that compels you to dig deeper than a simple topic can learn to satisfy. Allow me to explain using my own personality as an example.

There are times that although I agree with the "larger topic" of a posting, the individual points or facts are anathema to my logical way of thinking. You may have liked or agreed with my conclussion, but the method of reaching it was found wanting, in your view. Am I close? Again, this is not a critique but a questioning of your reasoning so that I may better understand your always wonderfully worded opinions in the future.

Lastly, your point was something I had missed completely. Not only is my "bellowing to the world" a new and different paradigm in world media interaction but the almost immediate reply and reciprocation is the true blessing, .. if one can call it that.

Many thanks for your words. You are the best, I mean that.

Truth-Pain said...

Thanks for the link. That particular posting is in the oven, it should be out next week, Cheers!

Your comments are fodder for yet another posting... the talking heards. What does it say about us, the listener of viewer than makes the decision makers think that their idea of an "anchor man" is the best way for us to digest the news.... i wonder about that all the time.

Thank you for that most kind of compliments. I can't say enough. I am very humbled that anything I say can be viewed as mildly entertaining, much less cohesive and informative.
I hope to see more of you :)

5th Estate said...

"You may have liked or agreed with my conclussion, but the method of reaching it was found wanting,"

That is what I meant.
But in saying so I do come off as a bit of a prick really. Having learned somewhat to shorten my comments, next up will be to work on my arrogance.
And that there is just one example of the value of blogging!

blog on!

Truth-Pain said...

5th Estate:
... Just for the record, I would not categorize your style as arrogant, just confident in your though process.

5th Estate said...

Dear T-P,
It was indeed I (YES! I, SIR!)who categorized my "style" as arrogant, and as I regard you as a gentleman of the first order I expected you, sir, to keep my humble admission in the strictest confidence. Alas, by your wanton public response to my private disclosure of humility on your personal blog (which I naively assumed all pertinent correspondences directed heretofore to have been vouchsafed to your very bosom ) I find myself impelled to damn your buttons sir! Nay, not yet your buttons but your britches too! And fie upon them, to boot! Why, your impudence is enough to make me spit mutton and turn aside a two-shilling strumpet, Sir!

Okay, I got carried away there...

But seriously "confidence" in one one opinion doesn't make it right, it has to be supported. Confidence has its benefits but when it is entirley self-referential it often leads to disaster. By the same token caution doesn't always guarantee benefits and can lead to disaster also. Just because you or I are confident our opinions are valid regarding a praticular subject doesn't make either of our opinions valid to anyone else and whoever shouts the loudest or makes the longest speech doesn't validate or invalidate our respective positions on a given subject. What matters is the argument that leads to the conclusion. What if I agree with every line of argument and then find that I disagree with the confident speaker's conclusion? That doen;t seem likely does it?
Yet on the other hand in your post I found specific arguments or citations that I thought didn;t support your final argument, yet I basically agreed with ypur conclusions.

I am confident but confidence without cause, without substantive support is mere arrogance which is nothing short of prejudice.
Your recent posting of an imagined and satiric converstation between Islamic militants I initially took at face value, as a verbatimn expression of your sensiblities. By our subsequent correspndence and the comments of others I began to take a broader view. My "confidence" told me it was a venal diatribe. A little communication, observation and circumspection informed me otherwise. "Confidence" can be a liability to understanding all too easily.

So whilst I appreciate you appreciate my confidence, through my expressions of confidence I've begun to learn it's limitations when it it is based on personal assumptions.

So much for my keeping my comments brief!