Remember all those “it’s the end of the world as we know it” essays from Big Media and their allies when Matt Drudge first appeared on the scene?
You could almost do a “find and replace” of the names (didn’t 1972-era IBM typewriters have that feature?) and replace Drudge’s name with those of today’s bloggers, as a big media that decades ago loved nothing more than to bust up trusts and monopolies gets increasingly uncomfortable watching their own lock on information dissolve. (Or as James Lileks put it last Monday on Hugh Hewitt’s show, the same journalists who said “question authority” and “don’t trust anyone over 30” in the late ’60s and early ’70s are now saying “don’t trust anyone but us”.)
For example, Ed Morrissey, of the great Captain’s Quarters Weblog just had such an essay written about him in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by a professor of journalism at the University of Georgia.
As Ed writes:
Professor Fink claims in his conclusion that he holds no brief for the newspaper industry, but then states that the broadsheets have stood watch over this nation’s interests like no other medium has or ever will. That’s the cri de coeur of the dinosaur, and it will be the echo of the paper medium as it disappears into history. It reveals his essay as nothing more than a self-serving rant, trying desperately to discredit bloggers and anyone else who dares to report and comment on current events without a diploma from dear old Georgia or a similar member of academia.
The difference between Morrissey and Professor Fink, and the Blogosphere and Big Media really highlights Virginia Postrel’s Dynamists and Stasists model from The Future and its Enemies, doesn’t it?
2014’s getting closer every day.
Update: Victor Davis Hanson answers Professor Fink’s essay even before it’s written:
It’s easy to see why people no longer feel they can rely on a CBS News or a Newsweek for information without bias. At CBS, Dan Rather persistently wished us to believe a clearly forged memo was authentic. Michael Isikoff’s reliance on a single anonymous and unreliable source about supposed desecration of the Koran made an already jaded public believe Newsweek was too eager to deliver a one-sided story.
* * *
Bigheaded lectures for the umpteenth time about the “century-old standards” at the New York Times, the “legacy” of Edward R. Murrow or the “prestige” of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism don’t cut it anymore in a world of Jayson Blair, Eason Jordan and Dan Rather.
Liberal copycats of talk radio fail, not because they are always boring but because there is little market or even need for such a counter-establishment media. The progressive audience already finds its views embedded in a New York Times or CBS “news” story. So why turn to a redundant and less adept Al Franken, Phil Donahue or Arianna Huffington?
Yet the irony is that though our major media are considered liberal, they are hardly populist. When Dan Rather and Newsweek are exposed, they seek refuge in stuffy institutional reputations and huffy establishment protocols.
Meanwhile, a million bloggers with pitchforks — derided by a former CBS executive as “guys in pajamas” — couldn’t care less about degrees or titles but use their collective brainpower to poke holes in the New York-Washington gatekeepers.
A fire-breathing Rush Limbaugh or snapping Bill O’Reilly might not receive many honorary doctorates, speak at Ivy League commencements or carry off the Peabody Award. Yet they come off as no more opinionated than an anointed Peter Jennings or insider Bill Moyers — and a lot more honest about their own politics and the medium in which they work.
If the left wishes to curb the influence of the new prairie-fire media, the answer is not to subsidize an Air America, the failing liberal talk-radio network. There is no need to lure Al Gore back into the picture, or to pour more George Soros money into another moveon.org-like Web site.
Instead, liberals themselves must begin balking at the infusion of their political views in the mainstream media. Once the public again trusts major news outlets to be objective, media bias will no longer be news.