Two items today underscore how information media may be shifting irrevocably.
First, Chez Pazienza muses in the Huffington Post about his firing as a producer at CNN for (gasp!) writing a blog.with.opinions!
What he has to say here, through all its disgruntled employee tone, is prophetic.
As far as CNN (and to be fair, the mainstream TV press in general) believes, it still sits comfortably at the top of the food chain, unthreatened by any possibility of a major paradigm shift being brought to bear by a horde of little people with laptops and opinions. Although the big networks recognize the need to appeal to bloggers, they don’t fear them — and that means that they don’t respect them. Corporate-think dictates that the mainstream television press as a monstrous multi-headed hydra is the ultimate news authority and therefore is in possession of the one and only hotline to the ghosts of Murrow and Sevareid. Sure those bloggers are entertaining, but in the end they’re really just insects who either feed off the carcasses of news items vetted through various networks or, when they do break stories, want nothing more than to see themselves granted an audience by the kingmakers on television…
It’s prophetic especially in light of this:
It would have seemed incredible a couple of years ago, but a George Polk Award was given this morning to a blogger.
Not just any blogger, of course. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo may have started back in 2000 as a kind of blogging stereotype, posting late at night from his small D.C. apartment and from the corner Starbucks and — in just two years — shining a light on the remarks that cost Sen. Trent Lott his GOP Senate leadership post, but he’s turned his operation into much, much more.
Since 2002 Marshall has moved to New York and — thanks to increasing ad revenue — made Talking Points Memo into a new kind of journalistic enterprise for the 21st Century, hiring a staff of a half dozen talented young journalists and rewriting the rules with a mix of commentary and original muckraking while highlighting the work of other to focus like a laser on the big political questions.
Here’s how and why Marshall and Talking Points Memo won a Polk Award today:
“His site, www.talkingpointsmemo.com, led the news media coverage of the politically motivated dismissals of United States attorneys across the country. Noting a similarity between firings in Arkansas and California, Marshall (with staff reporter-bloggers Paul Kiel and Justin Rood) connected the dots and found a pattern of federal prosecutors being forced from office for failing to do the Bush Administration’s bidding.”
Hopefully, this acknowledgment of what one savvy blogger and his team have accomplished is a milestone that will speed the day when mainstream journalists realize that the best kind of blogger like Marshall is truly one of our own kind, using new tools and a new way of thinking to break a news story that otherwise might have not been discovered.
We could only hope. But I won’t hold my breath. Besides, why would any self respecting blogger want to be associated with the big boyz in “mainstream journalism?” Here’s more of what Pazienza has to say about the state of teevee news:
During my last couple of years as a television news producer, I watched the networks try to recover from a six year failure to bring truth to power (the political party in power being irrelevant incidentally; the job of the press is to maintain an adversarial relationship with the government at all times) and what’s worse, to pretend that they had a backbone all along. I watched my bosses literally stand in the middle of the newsroom and ask, “What can we do to not lead with Iraq?” — the reason being that Iraq, although an important story, wasn’t always a surefire ratings draw. I was asked to complete self-evaluations which pressed me to describe the ways in which I’d “increased shareholder value.” (For the record, if you’re a rank-and-file member of a newsroom, you should never under any circumstances even hear the word “shareholders,” let alone be reminded that you’re beholden to them.) I watched the media in general do anything within reason to scare the hell out of the American public — to convince people that they were about to be infected by the bird flu, poisoned by the food supply, or eaten by sharks. I marveled at our elevation of the death of Anna Nicole Smith to near-mythic status and our willingness to let the airwaves be taken hostage by every permutation of opportunistic degenerate from a crying judge to a Hollywood hanger-on with an emo haircut. I watched qualified, passionate people worked nearly to death while mindless talking heads were coddled. I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up — and that’s not even taking into account the 24/7 Vaudeville act over at Fox News. I watched The Daily Show laugh not at our mistakes but at our intentional absurdity.
It rings true. By the same token, I’ll bet the buggy factories were sad places at the end of their day, too.