The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Monday, November 19, 2007

UPDATED FOR CLARITY Answering the Elites: Cry Havoc and let loose the Dogs of New Media

Don Surber--himself a successful newspaperman--beholds what happens when publishers and writers become so full of themselves that they believe the universe revolves around them. And don't think it is only Seattle where the news media is this far gone; try New York. Try Washington. Try Atlanta. Try LA and Boston and Burbank. The monster that is Elite Media is beyond the point where it be repaired, short of blowing the whole thing up and starting with a new paradigm. A media that no longer cares about truth is a cancer to any democracy. Eventually a misinformed public must necessarily screw up bad enough to kill the entire vision of the Founders. And so, like any cancer, the first step is to find the malignancies and cut them out. Before they get us all killed.

If you think about it, Elite Media has enjoyed its unique position of power since (at least) the end of World War II. Once upon a time most of the big time reporters were larger than life: Murrow comes to mind. Men with great talent, but they also took their responsibility (i.e. to report the truth) seriously. These days truth is the first casualty in the race for if-it-bleeds-it-leads ratings. And men of conscience? Few and far between. Which is what makes Surber's post so spot on. A sampling:

Watching it dawn on some newspaper people that the 21st century is here has been amusing. But it is painful in the case of James Vesely, editorial page editor for the Seattle Times. In a column in the Sunday newspaper, he tried to tie the future of democracy to newspapers.

That sadly reminds me of the car companies that tried to peddle their clunky behemoths to the public in the 1970s because, by golly, they were made in America.

He wrote a couple of silly paragraphs: “We can’t rely on the First Amendment to provide us with a paycheck; the First Amendment is not a financial model. And yet, as newspaper men and women, we return to the articles of democracy to give us a place at the table, and with it the notion that we will find a meal.

“Without democracy — which means not just freedom but the robust life in a democratic state — the free press cannot survive, no matter how rich it gets. Indeed, I can imagine a fat and prosperous press without the freedoms of contradiction and accuracy. It would not be a free press, just a profitable one. Its people might think themselves free, yet would not be.”

I don’t know. Athens seemed to have a pretty good democracy going there 2,500 years or so before the Linotype came along.

Self-importance is an occupational hazard for we editorial writers. But James Vesely really lost it when he wrote: “Reporters know that truth is fleeting, and that it changes in the palm of the hand like mercury. For just a moment, something is true. It is true because it is verifiable by other sources and true because of the checks and counterchecks that look for truth amid the haze of events. It was that verifiable truth that kept newspapers coming to the kitchen table.

Be sure to read the whole thing; you may even want to link therein to Vesely's poorly-constructed monument to his own incompetence. You can then count yourself as one of the lucky ones--lucky that there are still journalists out there like Don Surber and Roger Simon and Ralph Peters and Robert Kaplan and Bill Sammon and a few others--who make it a point to not just crank out content, but also context. The truth has as much to do with connotation as it does denotation. The news media understands this; but it blatantly abuses its power of connotation to spin elaborate lies every day. And what destructive lies they are...

Fortunately there are still these few journalists left who still "get it". But unfortunately they are more and more becoming an endangered species. It will be up to the blogs to pick up the slack, and this is no small undertaking. But what is the alternative? If we don't take our country back, who will? The battle of the blogosphere is every bit as pitched and heated--and as consequential--as are other "real" military battles thousands of miles away. We will not win this war in any real, meaningful sense unless we win it on all fronts: out here in the blogosphere and in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran.

I am but a mere foot soldier in this war for hearts and minds. A buck private in the grand scheme. But I will continue to fight until my last breath. I will continue to come out here and engage the enemy in this target-rich environment as long as I am able, or until I run out of ammunition. The point is not to become famous or get an unrealistic sense of my own individual importance--that is what is sinking Elite Media right now. No the point is that the truth must find a way to get out there and to become known. There are armies of people as we sit here who are trying mightily to prevent that from happening; they are fighting to keep the truth buried every bit as hard as many of us fight to keep the truth alive. Hell Hillary and Harry and Nancy and Chuckie are their standard bearers. And now they are being helped by the mighty "Oz" itself, Elite Media--for the good of the "collective", don't you know... (or perhaps the "commune" would be more appropriate).

In any case, in this new form of warfare, it will become important to hold up for recognition and to look up to great examples of New Journalism: guys like Don Surber and Glenn Reynolds and Ed Morrissey come to mind--as Americans once looked up to Edward R. Murrow. The world is changing under our feet; the media is changing too. New Media is no longer just an idea, it is coming to fruition. And--for now anyway--we still have a voice in how New Media evolves and grows. This much is clear to me: if we are to survive as a society, we need to hold up and follow the examples of the heroes of the New Media; and we must insist on high standards of truth and morality at all times. And then we need to do everything in our power to vanquish the once-powerful Elites before they destroy us all.

Don, Glenn, Ed, Chris, Yaacov, Tom, Charles, Avi, Hugh, Dean, Mark, Rich, Jonah, Ralph, "Rusty", AJ, Michelle... and all the rest of you: Salud! Respect is Due. Let's win this thing. I await your marching orders.
DiscerningTexan, 11/19/2007 07:23:00 PM |