Policing the Media
Hello all. This is Duncan Black, perhaps better known to those who know me as Atrios. I run the blog Eschaton and I also work with Media Matters for America. I'll leading a discussion on policing the media, bright and early Saturday morning.
Blogging and bloggers get a lot of attention whenever there's some major story which was obviously either discovered or pushed online - Trent Lott, Jeff Gannon, Dan Rather are all examples of this - but the real influence and power of blogging generally doesn't come from these "big" stories, but instead the daily presence in the overall media conversation. No news outlet really exists in isolation, stories and voices from all over the media landscape have a constant influence and what is reported and how.
There is certainly value in having outsiders provide media criticism, as genuine media criticism is something which has been in short supply. Often too much emphasis is placed on "bias" - real or perceived - instead of simply on the substance of what is being reported. This tends to make reporters more concerned with appearing to be "unbiased," whatever that means, than with educating their audiences.
Generally, my take is the more criticism the better and we should all - print reporters, news anchors, radio hosts, and bloggers - welcome it and be more willing to embrace our mistakes rather than running from them. Sometimes it seems that making a mistake is perceived as being a capital offense for journalists, rather than being an inevitable part of the process.
Members of the media frequently try to hold bloggers to standards they don't hold themselves to, but in fairness bloggers often do the same. Blogs are not "self-correcting" as is often claimed by some, corrections actually have to be made. Too often the fallacy of argumentum ad populum drives drives the conversation both online and elsewhere. The fact that many people claim something is true does not necessarily make it true.
I'm looking forward to a lively discussion. Hopefully we can think about how to help make a better news media, and go beyond the simple partisan food fight.