Is the Press Too Big to Fail? »

Great read from Todd Gitlin, writing at The Nation:

Don’t be fooled, though, by any inflated talk about the early days of American journalism. In the beginning, there was no Golden Age. To be sure, a remark Thomas Jefferson made in 1787 is often quoted admiringly (especially in newspapers): “If it were left to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”

Protected by the First Amendment, however, the press of the early republic was unbridled, scurrilous, vicious, and flagrantly partisan. In 1807, then-President Jefferson, with much more experience under his belt, wrote, “The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”

The whole piece is a pretty fantastic look at “The Golden Age” of journalism —or lack thereof.

Dear News... »

Emily Finke calls out the mainstream news media:

Until you figure this out, news. I’m going to continue to continue to get my news from brilliant reporters like Seth Mnookin and Taylor Dobbs. I’m going to continue turning to the brilliant group of journalists, both fledgeling and veteran, both professional and amateur, whom I follow on twitter. I will continue to get my morning news from NPR and my evening news from BBC world. I will not be watching your overly-produced reality porn. I will not be giving your sponsors eyes. I will not be falling prey to the messages you send about who are the correct people to be afraid of. I will not be absorbing your biases and your messages of fear and hatred. I will not buy into your manufactroversies, and I will not hound innocent young men because they fit the profile you want me to suspect.

I am an avid news consumer. I am an information junkie. I should be your target audience. I should be glued to your shows each evening. I should be impatiently refreshing your websites. But I’m not. And that’s your fault. Because I don’t like the kind of consumer you make me. I don’t want to be a voyeur any more. I want to be an conscientious consumer, even of my news media. You don’t give me that option. So now you don’t get the option of informing me any more.

An excellent rebuttal to the media coverage in Boston last week (CNN was especially egregious in my opinion). Michael and I talk about this very issue on the forthcoming episode of The Impromptu.

—link via Gabe Glick (you should be following him)

Breaking News is Broken »

Farhad Manjoo at Slate:

Break­ing news is bro­ken. That’s the clear­est les­son you can draw about the media from the last week, when both old- and new-media out­lets fell down on the job. By now you’ve like­ly heard the low­lights. CNN and the AP incor­rect­ly report­ed on Wednes­day that a Boston Marathon sus­pect had been arrest­ed. Peo­ple on Red­dit and edi­tors at the New York Post wrong­ly fin­gered inno­cent kids as bomb­ing sus­pects. Red­di­tors also pushed the the­o­ry that a Brown Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent who has been miss­ing for more than a month was one of the bombers—a story that gained steam on Twit­ter Thurs­day when peo­ple lis­ten­ing to police scan­ners heard the cops repeat the stu­dent’s name. Though every­one should have been care­ful to dis­miss chat­ter heard over the scan­ner, few did. Caught up in the excite­ment of break­ing news, I was one of many jour­nal­ists who retweet­ed news that the Brown stu­dent was one of the sus­pects—a fact which, in the morn­ing, I feel absolute­ly ter­ri­ble about. Peo­ple on Red­dit feel ter­ri­ble about it too, though now the dam­age to his rep­u­ta­tion has been done. (Although I’m choos­ing not to men­tion his name here, that’s not going to accom­plish very much—it’s already been stained.)

As a Media and Communication major, I have strong feelings on this topic. I should work to get some coherent thoughts up on the site, but haven’t yet had a chance. Manjoo’s piece —which I still have some issues with— partially gets to the heart of the problem.

What he misses is the fact that large corporations run most of our media, and thus, put their interests —read ad revenue — above all else. Being first is most important. Being accurate is a distant second. And don’t get me started on how the media frames what’s “okay” to say on national television.

Yeah, I should get working on a longer piece.