Anything you can do, I can do better...a compelling look at old vs. new media

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg takes a look at the evolving battle lines between old and new media using HuffPo's Sam Stein and his White House presser question as a jumping off point to discuss the unfounded assumption that old media reporting is somehow inherently superior:

It's routinely argued that old media--particularly newspapers--are superior, because they do "original reporting" while bloggers are merely parasitical on what newspapers reporters do. Of course, this is very often the case, just as most opinion columns are parasitical on newspaper reporters, too.

But it's not necessarily the case, and it's likely to be less and less the case as time goes by. With the vast online publication of information from primary sources, government, scientific and professional reports and the like, the value of traditional journalists largely revolves around their ability to see the same things that anyone online can see, and then to ask the right questions to penetrate beyond what was originally presented. And this is precisely where they routinely fail, not just falling short, but often amplifying the very lies and distortions they should be stripping away.

Rosenberg goes on to make his point by noting Media Matters' recent research item on the AP comparing President Obama's hiring of progressives at the DOJ to the Bush administration's alleged illegal hiring practices:

Indeed, the Bush politicization of the DOJ goes far beyond simply politicizing the process of hiring career staff using political criteria. The whole point of hiring conservative Republicans was not simply to give them cushy jobs they weren't qualified for (although some possible were qualified, but those didn't need their help). No, their purpose was to use the DOJ as a political weapon to attack, and attempt to destroy, the Democratic Party. This is how a whole range of improper and illegal practices all tied together. So MMFA is merely focusing on the most minimal aspects of what's required for accurate reporting here.


In it's critique of the AP story, MMFA relied entirely on the July 28, 2008 DOJ report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General." (PDF) In the natural course of standard journalistic practice, this is the sort of crucial document that a beat reporter would have read. That's precisely the sort of intimate understanding that reporters are supposed to bring to their jobs, which the rest of us are supposed to lack. MMFA did not "engage in reporting" according to the standard narrative. They were "just blogging."

And yet, MMFA managed to unearth and highlight the most fundamental distinction between political appointees and career attorneys (something every beat reporter ought to know like the back of their hand), and present it using compelling quotes from an unimpeachable authoritative source.

In short, although MMFA was "just blogging" while AP was doing "real reporting", it was MMFA that produced a sound journalistic product while AP did not.

U.S. Attorneys Scandal
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.