Add This

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

MSM vs. new media: Getting beyond the smack

Been doing a lot of thinking of late about the great divide that seems to separate old media vs. new. It’s bothering me because we can’t seem to move the conversation forward beyond the tired old arguments that have been bantered about for the past several years.

In the new media corner we have bloggers, citizen journalists and online writers, chatters, consumers, producers, etc. They have been dubbed by the mainstream media (MSM) as freaks, unimaginative, purveyors of dreck, unaccountable, inaccurate, partisan and (fill in the blank with choice slam here).

In the traditional media corner, we have reporters and editors at various mainstream media outlets shouting "standards, ethics and professionalism," which is greetd with uproarious laughter by a cynical public.

On the whole, the cadre of reporters seems to embrace the new media more so than the editors. Editors have been attacked for having a tin ear to news and an arrogant belief that the threshold of journalism is too high for the average Joe or Jane. These editors have been characterized by bloggers as hunched in their corners with their arms covering their faces shooing the onslaught of new media with girly slaps and covering their ears while shouting "lalala … I can't hear you, you're irrelevant" at the new media onslaught.

They taunt bloggers with personal attacks about their work habits and ability to feed themselves, ignoring that most work in other professions but pursue certain topics as a labor of love. They issue sweeping generalizations about bloggers being bloviators and unprofessional that largely overlook some of the very good original reporting being done online.

Both sides have got to grow up and move beyond this petty territorial handle on the news. Because while we waste time arguing over who's entitled to report news, the news-consuming public simply tuned out.

So it was with keen interest that I opened last night’s E-Media Tidbits column by Amy Gahran titled, “Newsrooms and Bloggers: Can't We All Just Get Along?”

She links to Alan T. Saracevic’s column by a similar name on

Saracevic wrote about the ugliness of revolutions, but he wrote about what can happen when both sides tiptoe beyond the threshold that has held us prisoner for the past couple of years.

He writes of the decision to launch The Tech Chronicles. Only before launching, the Chronicle staffers reached out to Bay Area media revolutionaries for input and advice.

And in typical Bay Area fashion, the real revolutionaries responded in kind, encouraging us and offering to help the dreaded MSM bridge the gap between old and new.

The move has energized and invigorated conversation and even some of the old crusty newsroom types got jazzed up. “We're having a blast playing with a new printing press,” writes Saracevic.

Bottom line in his piece is:

Let's face it, analog needs digital. And visa versa.

I submitted the following comment to Amy Gahran at Poynter Online:

How do we expand the conversation further? How do we get beyond the us vs. them/old vs. new mentality that persists in cities across the country?

I'm thinking a little humility vs. hubris on both sides is a good place to start. What are the strengths, weaknesses and limitations and opportunities afforded by citizen journalism and new media working with MSM and vice versa?

That's a conversation I'd definitely like to hear. Because there are a number of us with feet in both camps who are tired of the same old paranoia and arrogance dogging the momentum.

Anyone care to start that conversation with me?


Jill said...

Everyone else can ignore this comment, it's more like a giggle in a conversation: Wen - that second to last paragraph - I've heard that somewhere before! ;)

Get it out there, lady. You will have blogs, I mean gobs of support. :)

Wendy Hoke said...

You know it. :) Now if only we can drag others into our conversation.