Monday, August 22, 2005

Blogging

We all bemoan the bitter partisanship that has divided our country recently. The ideological divide, which lurked dormant pre 9/11, became impossible to ignore during the war on terror. It has made us more aware of the biases that permeate some of our major institutions, & heightened our awareness of the impact of these biases on our lives. The war on terror forced us to confront the fact that a major segment of our MSM does have a liberal bias. Not only do they have they a liberal bias, but they harbor an active hostility towards America, her traditions & the military.

The claim that ‘the media isn’t biased’ certainly runs contrary to the wisdom of the numbers:
....[T]he new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found the national media to be 34 percent liberal and 7 percent conservative.

That's more than four liberal journalists for every one conservative journalist. CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC v the lonely Fox, seems an ever apt analogy.

The audience, recognizing the bias, has rated the credibility of the MSM at an all time low: In 1985, 84 percent said they could believe most of what they read in their daily newspaper, but by 2004 that number was down to 54 percent.

And now the death knell:
Blogs Attract Young, Wealthy Readers: that demographic & socioeconomic group much coveted by media outlets & courted by the advertisers who ensure the financial solvency of all the major media outlets of all mediums.

As Huge Hewitt predicts: Before long corporate America will be calling search firms to find candidates for new positions dealing exclusively with new media, and boards of directors, long used to consulting or recruiting from politics and the mainstream media, will be debating how to persuade Betsy Newmark or Stephen Bainbridge, LaShawn Barber, or Joe Carter to advise (or even join) their ranks.

Indeed, the blogosphere, fed by discontent & entrepreneurial spirit, is growing ever more rapidly. However, despite its success, the blogosphere has not eliminated the MSM. While blogs may be more trusted, they are, due to the financial & professional limitations placed on them, still forced to get the content of their news from mainstream sources.

A vast majority of bloggers, being unable to attain a sufficient income from their blogging activities, & thus having to maintain 'day jobs' in order to pay the bills, as well as contending with time & other resource limitations with which to conduct the independent investigations placed upon them, consigned themselves to an editorial role. However, the events of the Rathergate incident began to break down this wall. Bloggers began to realize that not only can they criticize the old media, but they can attack it with its own tools.

Yet, despite this moment in the sun, while bloggers were able to expose the fraudulent charges for what they were, they remained unable to push any further into the story. They were not able to ascertain who created the documents & how they arrived at CBS. Thus the blogosphere remained, while relevant & trusted, still an editorial organ, rather than a journalistic one.

And then along came Al Franken's Air America with a yen for re-distributing resources...

Michelle Malkin was quick to jump on the story, & with the help of Brian Maloney, conduct an investigation of the sordid deeds. Their investigation resulted in landing Air America landing in legal & fiscal hot water. This was indeed a full-scale journalistic investigation. Of course, the NYT (no doubt seething with jealousy & fuming with rage) only covered the story as a minor trifle, by relegating it to the B section & entitling it Bronx Boys Club's Finances Investigated. The more prescient NY Post gave Ms. Malkin & Mr. Maloney the opportunity to present the results of their investigation in a full page editorial, entitled 'Money Pit' on Aug 22. (Bug Me Not, for those who don't wish to register)

Her fine work has garnered Michelle Malkin's blog the coveted top spot in the TTLB, surpassing Glenn Reynolds. This investigation is a major milestone in the transformation of blog content from editorial journalism, to investigative journalism. As a bloger, albeit a mere ranting editorialist, I cannot help but hope that this will mark the beginning of a long series of investigative stories by blogs. It will be interesting to see how the FCC responds to this transformation.

The major hurdle to blogs transforming from editorial to investigative is the lack of advertising dollars, which flow into blogs, despite their audience. Ms. Malkin is able to blog full time due to the proceeds of her highly acclaimed books. Bloggers without books (sounds like the name of a group :) must rely solely on the proceeds of blog ads. In order to allow these bloggers also the resources to investigate in Ms. Malkin's capacity, the amounts earned in advertising by bloggers must increase. How this is to be done, remains a question.

While the blogosphere is by no means exclusively conservative, a majority of blogs are of a conservative slant. One of the major factors for the credibility of bloggers is that they are not "hired" by anyone. A fact, which renders rants like this one,
...2. Michelle Malkin - Far-right affirmative action hire who is so bigoted she'd arrest herself for trying to cross a border. Famously published a book praising internment of Japanese-Americans that was (a) incoherent and (b) probably not written by her. If she didn't have tits, she'd be stuck writing at Townhall.com...

which was posted in a liberal blog & entitled Conservative Blog Taxonomy, to put it mildly, hilarious. (On a side note, there are no comparable left wing female bloggers)

Indeed the bloggosphere, unbound by the shackles of political correctness & affirmative action, has allowed individuals to succeed on the basis of merit. This, IMHO, marks the major difference between blogs & mainstream journalism. Despite their recent genesis, blogs have had a tremendous impact on our culture. How far reaching this will be? And what will the nature of the future relationship between blogs, the MSM & advertisers? For the answers to these questions, I'd like to toss the crystal ball to you my fine readers.

HAT TIP: La Shawn, Basil, Mudville
Topic of next post: Blogs & the Iraq War.

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