Funny juxtaposition

It was funny to read this (via Atrios) right after discussing Alessandra Stanley’s fact-checking woes:

The so-called citizen journalism of most blogs is an affront to those of us who believe reporting and attribution must precede publication.

Fact-checking is tedious; it often derails juicy rumor and deflates many a story.

Update. I should have mentioned, as a commenter suggests, that on balance the piece I quoted from isn’t that bad. For example:

Many of the old-timers were the first in their families to go to college, or they were hired straight out of high school or the military and worked their way up the newsroom ranks. It’s easier to see the stories of hard-working Americans and immigrants when they reflect the narratives of your own family, your own neighborhood.

By the 1990s, the landscape in newsrooms across the country clearly was changing. Longtime reporters and editors retired, and increasingly were replaced by second- and even third-generation college graduates who had little in common with “the underdog,” that handy euphemism we employ for those who suffer in silence and anonymity until we step in.

Some of us detected a growing resistance of newspapers to covering these stories.

The humble origins thing is a bit too BriWi/Tim Russert for me, but she makes an excellent point about where media sympathies now lie.

27 replies
  1. 1
    eric says:

    how else to explain whitewater and vince foster than bloggers?

    that was very helpful.


  2. 2
    neill says:

    Yeah, but — this woman writes for/in Cleveland…

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    Damn those bloggers, making the aspens all change colour at the same time….

  4. 4

    Not to be a pollyanna, and not excusing Connie Schultz’s probably faux naivete about the standards of the media/infotainment complex, most of her piece is a pretty thinly veiled attack on the yuppie/upper middle class invasion of journalism over the last thirty years.

    She’s not right there, either, entirely; a 2nd gen. college education does not preclude quality work…but I’ve worked with enough of the “no problems in Westchester, Jack” crowd to give her some props for saying that the assault on newsrooms at least gives surviving journalists a taste of the story they ought to be covering.

  5. 5
    Scott says:

    I thought the same thing — that and hey, how ’bout those anonymous sources!

    Every time I read one of these “INTARWEBS I HATE YOU I HATE YOU HATE” articles in newspapers, they come across as cartoonishly projecting. I’m surprised they don’t claim Judith Miller was a blogger…

  6. 6
    Punchy says:

    But Micheal Moore is FAT, so shut up, that’s why. Also.

  7. 7
    geg6 says:

    And that, in one gloriously laughable nutshell, is exhibit number one in the case for why the MSM is dying. What arrogance and cluelessness and tone-deafness. What bullshit. I hope they all die like the dinosaurs they are. If my mother was still alive, she’d agree. Oh, those silly bloggers! Distorting truth, justice, and the American way with their citizen journalism and silly screen names! Only we old media know what truth and facts are! Fuck you, dinosaur. I’m your age and I understand the value and significance of new media better than you understand the dying medium you’ve hitched your wagon to. What a fucking dimwit. /rant

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Fact-checking is tedious; it often derails juicy rumor and deflates many a story.

    So wait, is this a complaint against bloggers for their propagation of juicy rumors and inflating of trivial stories, or a complaint against the bloggers for fact checking?

    Because – and I know this may be hard to believe – bloggers do both. I will never, for my life, defend the integrity “bloggers” en mass. That would be as foolish and naive as defending the corporate media for being unbiased.

    But yeah, please keep telling those young internet kids to “get off my lawn”, cause that always works.

  9. 9
    Crashman06 says:

    I like how there was no comments feature enabled on her column either. Coward.

  10. 10

    deleted as irrelevant to the discussion

  11. 11
    Tom says:

    Hey Geg6 and everyone bashing MSM,

    Bloggers have their place. I read blogs regularly. But I also recognize that being a journalist and a blogger and two entirely separate things (I was going so say jobs, but that doesn’t work).

    Being a reporter is a very hard job. It takes building up sources. It takes a lot of research. It often takes travel and always tight deadlines. And yes, it takes a lot of fact checking.

    There are some bloggers out there who do reporting, but for the most part it’s just people opining — usually off the teet of those “dinosaurs” you guys attack. Dinosaurs generate the news you guys grab off of Drudge or Memeorandum. The bottom line is that without dinosaur journalists, blogs would be just people screaming about nothing (as opposed to those screaming about the news of the day).

    Of course, not everyone is perfect — including journalists — and that will be amplified when you have an entire new medium looking for those imperfections. But, if it’s one thing I’ve discovered in my 33 years, it’s that the EASIEST thing in the world to do is criticize. And most bloggers are content to indulge in that criticism without acknowledging the job the REAL journalists do (yes, I said REAL). It makes you look petulant.

  12. 12
    joes527 says:


    The bottom line is that without dinosaur journalists, blogs would be just people screaming about nothing (as opposed to those screaming about the news of the day).

    How would we tell the difference?

  13. 13
    Jim says:

    The humble origins thing is a bit too BriWi/Tim Russert for me,

    I think the difference is that those old time, humbly origined journalists didn’t romanticize–not to say fetishize–their humble origins. They didn’t get far enough away from them to do that. Most of them never had five million dollar summer estates on the Cape or the Vinyard, and didn’t use those humble origins as a club to defend things like “all my conversations are off the record unless otherwise stated”.

    ( and are Williams origins really humble? everything about him reeks of the UMC frat boy)

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    The bottom line is that without dinosaur journalists, blogs would be just people screaming about nothing (as opposed to those screaming about the news of the day).

    Well, again, you have different tiers of bloggers. You can compare the John Cole style blogger that clips and opines the news of the day, or you can go down to FireDogLake and read a minute-by-minute live blog of a Supreme Court Senate hearing.

    Likewise, you might get a blog about the environment written by a housewife in suburban Ohio where she catalogs helpful tips for a green household. Or you might get a blog by a Sierra Club activist cleaning up the trails in a national park. Or you might get a blog by a corporate entity bragging about it’s contribution to various Green initiatives. Or you might get a blog from a watchdog group attacking a corporate entity for environmental malfeasance.

    Which one of these things are “reporting”? Because I’ve seen newspaper and magazine articles that adhered to any one of those profiles.

    The biggest major difference between a blogger and a published/broadcasted media figure is that the latter has to get a greater degree of funding to be heard. The medium of distribution is more expensive.

    But if you’re going to hold Balloon Juice to the same standards as the NYT, how do AmericaBlog and the NYPost stack up? How does Time Magazine compare to Wonkette? When DKos interviews a Congressman, how does that compare to when the Economist does it?

    I mean, ultimately, you’re talking about issues of access and scale. The WaPo journalists might have friends in the Pentagon that won’t speak to anyone else. But if an internet savvy MilBlogger decides to drop the dime on his unit’s impropriety, does he make a sound? Does he count?

  15. 15
    Bertie Wooster says:

    Quintessential Stanley – check out her review of the interrogation drama “strip search”, published April 27, 2004. Decrying moral equivalence, etc. Three days later, the Abu Ghraib story broke.

    One would think she would have imploded from shame after that.

    April 27, 2004
    TELEVISION REVIEW; When the Nation Is at Risk, Did You Say Civil Rights?
    ”Strip Search,” an intensely earnest, painfully wrongheaded film on HBO tonight, tries to sound an alarm about the erosion of civil liberties under the Patriot Act by likening the detention of a Muslim immigrant in the United States to that of an American student in China.

    The problem is not just that this kind of melodramatic moral equivalency is silly and specious. (Dissent, terrorism — what’s the difference, really?) The most tendentious point in ”Strip Search” is Glenn Close. As a federal investigator intent on wringing a confession from the Muslim suspect, the slithering star of ”Fatal Attraction” is a hundred times more menacing and scary than any bullying Chinese military interrogator. One glimpse of Ms. Close in action (”But who am I, just a lowly cog in a rusting wheel,” she whispers silkily, ”ignored, unappreciated”), and viewers can only conclude that even without air-conditioning or habeas corpus, a suspect is much better off in Communist China.

    The crudity of the film’s message is surprising given its pedigree — it was directed by Sidney Lumet (”Serpico,” ”The Verdict”) and written by Tom Fontana, the creator and executive producer of ”Oz,” the HBO series set in a prison. In these times there is value to dramatizing the blurred line between protecting national security and restricting civil rights — in many foreign countries, the word Guantánamo, the prison where more than 600 foreign terrorist suspects are being held without having been charged, has become a synonym for American injustice.

    But as a film, ”Strip Search” is as heavy-handed and simplistic as a Maoist textbook. The characters are not given names. The film shifts between two interrogations, one in a cool, high-tech meeting room in F.B.I. headquarters, the other in a dank, hot prison basement in Beijing. The conceit is that in both places, the exact same dialogue takes place. ”I don’t know my rights, you haven’t read me my rights,” the American student, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, tells the young Chinese officer (Ken Leung). The Muslim (Bruno Lastra) says exactly the same thing to Glenn Close, only her disdainful smile is a little more bloodcurdling.

    Neither prisoner has been charged with a crime, and the interrogation seems open-ended. (There is a moment when Ms. Close is warned by a fellow agent that she has only 24 hours. But the prisoner does not hear it.)

    Both prisoners are expected to give up a friend who is the key suspect, and both interrogations move from verbal intimidation to sexual humiliation. The two captives are ordered to strip naked for a ”full cavity” search. Ms. Gyllenhaal, stark naked in several scenes, is pitiably vulnerable. But she cannot match the horror that strikes Mr. Lastra’s character when Ms. Close asks him what will happen ”if I touch you down there.”

    A film that could have raised difficult questions and challenged easy orthodoxies instead confirms the most skeptical view of show business engagé: movies and political messages rarely mix.

  16. 16
    geg6 says:

    Tom: You obviously don’t know me, so let me just give you a little background. I grew up the child of an old media, old fashioned print journalist. Old school, up-from-the-blue-collar-masses, on the ground newspaper reporter. At an age only a bit younger than you and not long out of undergrad, I also worked for a newspaper for seven years. I no longer work in the field, but 25 years later, I am quite well aware of what the job of a journalist should be. And there is no question in my mind that the new media journalists do as well as, and more often a much better, job at it than the deservably dying old media. I really don’t need lectures on the difference between old and new media journalism. Or how difficult it is to be a journalist. As I said above, my mother had better insight into new media when she died 8 years ago at age 75. She would be embarrassed and outraged by her so-called peers today, especially by idiots who rail against new media much the same way print railed against radio which in turn railed against tv. She may have been old school but she wasn’t stupid, blind, or reactionary like too many in print and tv today.

  17. 17
    YellowJournalism says:

    …movies and political messages rarely mix.

    So what about:

    The Great Dictator
    Citizen Kane
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    The Manchurian Candidate
    Dr. Strangelove
    All the President’s Men
    Wag the Dog
    Three Kings

    That’s just a short list of some of the more obvious politically-motivated movies. I’m sure we all could find some excellent films with political messages that are not even set in DC politics or related to the military.

    I can’t believe there’s a worse critic out there than Michael Medved.

  18. 18
    DougJ says:

    And most bloggers are content to indulge in that criticism without acknowledging the job the REAL journalists do (yes, I said REAL). It makes you look petulant.

    Perhaps that’s true. But I really do think that the level of fact-checking in major papers is not as good as it should be.

  19. 19
    Bertie Wooster says:

    Just in the last several years:
    Bob Roberts
    Good Night and Good Luck
    Thirteen Days

    It just goes on and on.

    “I can’t believe there’s a worse critic out there than Michael Medved.”

    Indeed. I vividly remember reading that review and cringing at it. Then three days later, Seymour Hersh breaks Abu at the New Yorker and I’m bombarded with pics. It couldn’t have happened more perfectly / appallingly.

  20. 20
    JDM says:

    Those privileged little fuckers also don’t give a shit about unions. Soon enough they’ll be selling pencils in tin cups along with the mortgage slobs and I hope the (former) health insurance industry jitbags.

  21. 21
    ricky says:

    Funny Juxtaposition?

    Allow me to post the titles of her last two columns:

    • Journalists’ own hard luck tales help them tell those of others: Connie Schultz

    • Harry Potter breaks through pope’s reserve: Connie Schultz

  22. 22
    DougJ says:

    Allow me to post the titles of her last two columns:

    Too funny.

  23. 23
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Zifnab: Great comment. I think the problem for Tom and likeminded people might be a sort of tunnel-vision, seeing only what they consider bad and threatening out on the blogonet and not good stuff like the things you mention. It’s that wrong focus we need change and get moved to a good vision of what new media can contribute.

  24. 24
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Bertie Wooster: That’s simply awful. Vintage neocon bedwetting and bloviating.

  25. 25
    John says:

    Cut their pay! Then they’ll see things differently!

  26. 26
    joes527 says:

    I think a front pager over at the GOS just ripped you (or Atrios) off.

    The irony is … ironic.

  27. 27
    jl says:

    last part of post meant that the sympathies now lie with the corporate stooge and lackey class? People whose entire life has revolved around kissing ass and gaming the system so they can get their tickets punched and climb up another rung on the sh*t ladder for bucks and power and empty celebrity of some sort? In a word: hacks.

    I think that is a good working hypothesis. I believe it for the teevee people.

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