Score One For New Media

Old Media, New MediaThe MSM (or “Legacy Media” or whatever term floats your boat) is suffering at the invisible hands of technology, which has prompted the rise of not just cable news, but also blogs and online magazines. Blogs in particular often draw snarling reactions and comments from major MSM players, mostly because the MSM is routinely berated in the blogosphere for its shortcomings: e.g. “fake but accurate”, “layers of fact-checkers”, etc. Indeed, one famous quip from Jonathan Klein, former CBS News VP, spurred the creation of Pajamas Media, of which ASHC is a member:

“You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances [at 60 Minutes] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”

To be fair, the relationship is pretty symbiotic. After all, what would blogs write about if not for the comedy of errors that is the MSM?

But what New Media, and especially online media, brings to the table is an extra dimension of interconnectedness that’s lacking in the MSM. Certainly the MSM all take their cues from the same playbooks, and develop their “narratives” in the same laboratory, but that is a different sort of interconnectedness.

What I’m referring to is the way that blogs link to one another, and to primary sources. This simple innovation allows readers to not only view the source material for the topic at hand, but to discover new, independent and often authoritative voices that might otherwise languish in obscurity. However, despite the ease with which linking can be done, and regardless of the fact that newspapers are increasingly placing their content on the web, I have yet to see this simple innovation employed by any of the MSM news articles. Until today.

Following a link to Bob Krumm from Instapundit, I read this truly odiferous Op-Ed from Frank Rich (as if he had any other kind). Here is an excerpt:

There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

Now, I won’t go into the myriad misstatements and untruths of Rich’s article, but if you wave your cursor over each one of those green underlined phrases you will find that Rich actually provided a link to the source of his statements, even when that source was other than the NYT. For that I say, bravo Frank Rich! Perhaps now other MSM writers will mimic your brave foray into the world of online media and begin linking to the sources of their statements.

As for how this acquiescence to blogospheric formatting reflects on New Media, I can’t decide which phrase fits best: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

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