5 Misconceptions About Blogs & The Mainstream Media

Bloggers aren’t accountable and trustworthy like the mainstream media! You mean bloggers can’t compete with the same mainstream media that gave us Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Jack Kelley, & the memogate scandal? Pshaw!

There are unreliable bloggers and unreliable members of the media. At least where the bloggers are concerned, you usually have readers pointing out the flaws in the comments section of the post and links to the original source material provided that gives the readers more relevant information to work with.

I’d also note that corrections in the blogosphere tend to be same day or next day at worst, unlike the mainstream media which can takes weeks to correct factual errors. The blogosphere — like the mainstream media — may not be perfectly accountable and trustworthy, but I’d take Glenn Reynolds over the New York Times in the accuracy department any time.

Bloggers are going to replace the mainstream media! This is one of the straw men that you usually only hear referenced in sentences that go something like this, “Those people who say bloggers are going to replace the mainstream media are wrong!” Well, if they exist, they are undoubtedly wrong because bloggers tend to cover limited topics, generally can’t afford to pay reporters to gather news, and can’t reach people who don’t have computers.

Hiowever, off the top of my head, there’s no one I know of who thinks that blogs are going to take the place of the MSM. So the real question that needs to be asked is, “Who — if anyone — is saying this?” Make sure to bring that up the next time somebody references this topic in a rant about bloggers.

Unlike the MSM, Bloggers are irresponsible! They post rumors and stories based on unreliable sources! What was memogate if not a story based on unreliable sources? How about the big missing explosives in the Iraq story the media ran with right before the Nov. 2nd elections that turned out to be bogus? Remember all the attention that Kitty Kelley’s book about the Bush family received in the MSM despite her poor reputation and the fact that sources for two of the biggest stories (Laura Bush was a pot dealer and W. used coke in the White House) didn’t pan out? Didn’t the media repeat all sorts of rumors about Bernard Kerik’s “affairs” based on anonymous third hand accounts? Speaking of anonymous sources, don’t we see “big stories” broken all the time by the MSM that center on questionable & unverifiable comments made by undisclosed sources?

Do some bloggers post rumors and stories based on unreliable sources? Yes. Do they do it more often than the MSM does? No.

Bloggers can’t compete with the experience of MSM journalists! Certainly there are some topics where you need to be an “expert” for people to take you seriously. For example, if you’re writing a column describing how to operate on someone’s brain, you want to hear from a brain surgeon, not a perfume salesman.

Then there’s “journalism.” If you’re talking about taxes, gay marriage, social security and the other sorts of issues that regularly come up in political discussions, there are literally millions of people who are just as well-informed and qualified to comment on the issues as the newsmen and reporters in the old media.

Put another way, you do need to have a certain level of knowledge to report on issues and opine about various political topics, but to be blunt, it ain’t brain surgery.

Unlike the mainstream media, bloggers are partisan so they can’t be trusted! The only difference between bloggers and the MSM on this count is that bloggers are up front and honest about their biases while members of the MSM pretend to be neutral. Take the “Old Grey Lady,” America’s most prominent newspaper, the New York Times. Are they liberal? The Times own outgoing public editor Daniel Okrent admitted, correctly, that they were in his last column before leaving the paper…

“Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? OF course it is.

The fattest file on my hard drive is jammed with letters from the disappointed, the dismayed and the irate who find in this newspaper a liberal bias that infects not just political coverage but a range of issues from abortion to zoology to the appointment of an admitted Democrat to be its watchdog. (That would be me.) By contrast, readers who attack The Times from the left — and there are plenty — generally confine their complaints to the paper’s coverage of electoral politics and foreign policy.

I’ll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

But if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.”

So what’s the difference between papers like the New York Times and a liberal blog on the ideological front? Not much other than the less emphatic language, although the Times hates to admit it. Same goes for the rest of the old media that pretends to be unbiased even as they serve out news that’s slanted to the left.

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