Contrary to what many at Medill might hold in their hearts and minds, the founder of the popular political blog DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas, thinks traditional media has prevented the masses from gaining a voice.
“The reason that media outlets are in trouble right now is because the technology now gives everybody a voice, and nobody sits there, and nobody has to wait for permission from some self-appointed gatekeeper to play a role or participate,” he said in an interview last week before his Tuesday evening speech at Ryan Auditorium in Tech.
Though as he admits, “I would not exist ten years ago,” it’s still an among-the-masses perspective from an expert at the very kind of media that drags down traditional newspaper revenue.
Here’s what he had to say about the pre-Internet Fourth Estate:
Back inside the journalist’s bubble, Eric Alterman took a deep New Yorker-style look at the new media world, and concluded in a March 31 piece:
“And so we are about to enter a fractured, chaotic world of news, characterized by superior community conversation but a decidedly diminished level of first-rate journalism.”
Also over break, the Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner griped via an interview with author Richard Longworth that local newspapers aren’t properly helping Midwesterners deal with or understand the global context of their economic troubles. Among the culprits?
“Newspapers are failing” at their task, Longworth writes, and one reason is a report issued by the “once responsible journalism school at Northwestern University, urging papers to draw readers by stressing local news. . . . All over the Midwest, local news, no matter how trivial, is squeezing out the global coverage that readers need to make sense of their world.”
Before you wonder what Dean Lavine’s reply would be, Miner writes it for him:
Unfortunately, even papers that do try to tell this story find their readers in denial.
“Every once in a while a paper will rear back and really try to do a job—a big series on economic changes,” Longworth told me. In the last few years, “the Cleveland Plain Dealer did this, with a long series called ‘The Quiet Crisis.’ . . . An editor at the paper told me the series was generally well received, ‘but the two pieces specifically on globalization and immigration landed with a dull thud.’
The common thread to these three media meditations? They address whether all this convergence hoopla is actually good for societies big and small. The blogger here seems to think this is the case; the journalists do not.
For anyone hoping that the former is correct and that the latter still will have jobs and meaning, take solace from the recent Pulitzer Prizes, Dean Starkman of the Columbia Journalism Review says:
The big winner in yesterday’s Pulitzers? The investigation.
Sure, The Washington Post won six. But newspapering’s highest—and most important—form won at least that many.
Maybe something grassroots fighters and print hacks can agree on?