Comment 37245

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:55:51

I too was at the talk. Too bad we weren't all wearing our light rail t-shirts! In addition to the mind-blowing speed with which Ryan posted this article, I was struck by a few things.

First, Connie Smith pleading that the MSM have authority and credibility because everything they produce is 'vetted' by presumably infallible editors. It was kinda sad, actually. How anyone could seriously make this argument in the wake of the massive failure of the (mostly) US media in the run up to the Iraq war is beyond me. Our local media may not have been responsible, but the abject failure to question, and the happy printing of outright lies, particularly in 'the paper of record', has changed forever the way many people view the credibility of all mainstream media.

Secondly, David Estok talking about all the care and thought on the part of educated professionals, that goes into the choice and placement of stories. I have a sister and friends who are journalists. I have a great deal of respect for their craft and a deep concern for its future. I have no doubt that a great deal of thought and sincerity go into these decisions, but as he spoke, it struck me just how paternalistic and presumptuous this pre-packaging seems in this day and age. Even as a baby boomer, I have little patience for this, and have no doubt that subsequent generations will find the notion that our 'betters' can and should decide what information we will have access to, entirely laughable.

And while we're on the subject of baby boomers, I believe it was also Estok who made the point that boomers are still reading newspapers, so the current model still has a 20-30 year lifespan. Think again, David. I may be a boomer, and I may have subscriptions to two newspapers, but my brain has been permanently re-wired by my contact with the internet, and I have come to expect the accessibility, instant accountability, and forum for evidence-based discussion that the internet provides. It is far too easy for more static media to be used as conduits for received wisdom, thus exempting them from the crucial discussions our society must have if we are to create a sustainable future for ourselves. I think it would be dangerous for journalists and traditional media to be exempted from this discourse, but they'll need to do some radical re-thinking about their out-moded 'gatekeeper' role, as well as their business model, if they are to maintain their rightful role as the fourth estate.

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