The Newspaper Slump: Blaming the Bloggers
Looking at the "overall" results above, seeing as television beats out newspapers, would Parker be willing to blame television for the downturn in newspaper revenue as well? Somehow I doubt it, especially seeing as since she turned thumbs down on Sarah Palin during the campaign last year, she's been a sought-after "conservative voice" on the talking heads programs. Plus, she's had it in for bloggers for some time now. Let's travel back to 2005:
There's something frankly creepy about the explosion we now call the blogosphere -- the big-bang "electroniverse" where recently wired squatters set up new camps each day. As I write, the number of "blogs" (web logs) and "bloggers" (those who blog) is estimated in the tens of millions worldwide. ...
Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow. Some bloggers do their own reporting, but most rely on mainstream reporters to do the heavy lifting. Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz, and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive. ...
Each time I wander into blogdom, I'm reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure.
But, really, she's "been a blog fan from the beginning." She says so, right after talking about how "creepy" the whole thing is.
Some blogs are obviously better than others at offering criticism and analysis, and savvy web consumers should be trusted to separate the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps, though, that's the problem in Parker's eyes: there's no guiding force behind blogs to lead the consumer correctly down the primrose path. She claims in her 2005 opinion piece that "people tend to abuse power when it's unearned," meaning bloggers. But what about the power of the traditional press? How did they earn their power? By being the only game in town, with self-selected editors to decide what's news and what's not and from which angle to report it?
Don't forget that many newspapers and other news outlets -- CNN, Fox, etc. -- have websites. Where does their complicity lie in all of this?
Reasonable people would not say they want newspapers to fold -- that means lost jobs and less focus on local news. We understand, as Parker constantly reminds us, that reporters in the field do most of the grunt work when it comes to collecting the news of the day. Yet do we not have a right to complain when, for example, photos are doctored? It was a blog that discovered that little gem from Reuters. When a company like Microsoft offers a faulty product and people stop buying it, Microsoft does what it can to improve the product and thus improve the bottom line. Yet the mainstream media continue on their merry way, preferring to blame the consumer rather than look at their business practices and ask, "What can we do to fix this?" And I'm not referring to layoffs.
Most of us would like newspapers -- and television, for that matter -- to present the news in a manner free from bias. And if they still prefer to put their spin on things, how about listing which political party -- if any -- the staffers belong to? That way we can connect the dots and "read between the lines." Don't tell me media folks are unbiased (right or left). Everyone has an opinion. It's when you let that opinion seep into your reporting without being honest about it that it becomes a problem. I'm not talking about commentators either -- they by their nature are expected to display bias one way or another. It's part of their job description.
I wonder if Parker ever ponders the irony that as she bemoans the "creepy explosion" of the blogosphere, the existence of said blogosphere has given her work much more exposure than back in the day when her column only existed in newspapers that were tossed onto people's doorsteps. People all over the nation and all over the world can read her columns and either agree with her -- or not.
You're welcome, Kathleen.