Monday, September 21, 2009
Dear President Obama: Blogs Fact-Check and Put Stories in Context Much Better than the Corporate Media
President Obama said yesterday:
I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.But as Dan Rather pointed out in July, the quality of journalism in the mainstream media has eroded considerably, and news has been corporatized, politicized, and trivialized.
Rather also pointed out that “roughly 80 percent” of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations. As I wrote in July:
This is only newsworthy because Rather said it. This fact has been documented for years, as shown by the following must-see charts prepared by:
And check out this list of interlocking directorates of big media companies from Fairness and Accuracy in Media, and this resource from the Columbia Journalism Review to research a particular company.
This image gives a sense of the decline in diversity in media ownership over the last couple of decades:
As I have also documented, there are four major problems with the mainstream reporting:
- Widespread self-censorship by journalists
- Censorship from editors and producers
- Pro-war bias
- Government censorship
(Oh, and also moolah)
Moreover, as I wrote in March:
The whole debate about blogs versus mainstream media is nonsense.
In fact, many of the world's top PhD economics professors and financial advisors have their own blogs...
The same is true in every other field: politics, science, history, international relations, etc.
So what is "news"? What the largest newspapers choose to cover? Or what various leading experts are saying - and oftentimes heatedly debating one against the other?
As blogger Michael Rivero pointed out years ago, mainstream newspapers aren't losing readers because of the Internet as an abstract new medium. They are losing readers because they have become nothing but official stenographers for the powers-that-be, and people have lost all faith in them.
Indeed, only 5% of the pundits discussing various government bailout plans on cable news shows are real economists. Why not hear what real economists and financial experts say?
To the extent that blogs offer actual news and the mainstream media does not, the latter will continue to lose eyeballs and ad revenues to the former.
In reality, the best blogs offer far more fact-checking and context then the mainstream media.