Instead of a straightforward fisking, I'm just going to use this letter as a jumping off point for a rant:
I had to laugh at Neal Justin's June 15 media column ("Media reform takes all voices"), which was nothing more than a defensive rant trying to make mainstream media look good.
NOTE: When someone uses the word "rant" to characterize someone else's rhetoric, it can almost always be translated into "I vehemently disagreed with what that guy said, but I lack the intellectual firepower to actually articulate why."
I attended the National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis, and I left the Convention Center excited and inspired by the speakers and panelists I'd heard for three days.
Bill Moyers -- whom Justin mentioned only as having "a heated exchange" with a Fox News producer, rather than quoting from his inspiring hour-long address to the 3,500 conferees -- summed up the central theme running throughout the conference: "As journalism goes, so goes democracy."
NANCY BONERJAMES, SANTA ROSA BEACH, FLA.
See, here's the thing though. That (extremely misleadingly named) conference wasn't about journalism. Oh sure, there were the typical lamentations about media consolidation and right wing *snort*
Excuse me, I just snorted for some reason. Continuing...
right wing *snort*
I can't seem to help it. Let's try again...
right wing *SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOORTTTTTTTTTTT BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHA *SNORT SNORT SNORT*
Sorry. I'll try to just force it out.
rightwingbiasinthemainstreammedia *SNORT SNORT SNORKY SNORT*
But what journalism is - how I understand it anyway - is merely the dissemination of important information to the community. Now, what "news" is important and to whom it is important is always up for debate, and the purveyors of journalism constantly have to make judgments regarding that. The result is often imperfect, but with all the different available news sources out there, a diligent person can usually get at least the important points of a story with relatively little effort. That's journalism.
The horribly misnamed National Conference of Media reform had little to do with journalism. It had to do with activism. It wasn't so much concerned with the dissemination of information, but rather the dissemination of the right information. Or to put a finer point on it, the dissemination of a message. Whose message?
Pretty monolithic bunch there. Philosophically speaking there are plenty of gripes about the state of the media in this country from both sides. Certainly enough to build a reform conference around. Yet I'm pretty sure there wasn't a whole lot of disagreements flying around in their little workshops.
These people couldn't give a rip about fair or accurate journalism. Only in the fair and accurate dissemination of stories that fit their worldview or support their ends. It's activism. Its messaging of a particular point of view. Don't blow sunshine up my ass by claiming that it's "democracy" or some other specious crap. In a speech at the conference, Keith Ellison called for the elimination of "hate radio" (who decides what is "hateful," anyway?) and Fox News. If you click through that link, you'll see an embed of the video of that speech. Unfortunately, whoever posted the vid has since pulled it. How democratic.
The proliferation of blogs has failed to fulfill its promise. Instead of getting insight into the opinions and analyses of shmoes just like you (or not), getting a number of perspectives on what some piece of information or news could mean, and maybe learning a few things in the process, we now get an onslaught of political activism which alternates between character assassinations of candidates in the party opposite and fellating the given blogger's own party candidate. We now have video camera-wielding jerkoffs, both employed by campaigns and working independently, relentlessly stalking candidates for office in hopes of catching them in some banal embarrassment. And when they do, it's repeated ad nauseum on other likewise-oriented blogs with no value added. All there is anymore is just a haze of proxy campaign sites masquerading as "independent" blogs. And then these people have the gaul to refer to themselves as "citizen journalists". You're not. You're a lame-o party activist - an unpaid low-grade salesman - who is of little worth to anybody seeking an intelligent opinion on anything. If I want to read nice things about Steve Sarvi, I'll just visit his website (where the candidate actually has to take responsibility for misrepresentations about his opponent's record and character), thanks.
We've already got front "news" outlets, for front groups of front groups of the Democratic Party, claiming to be "independent". What the hell do we need a conference for? What the hell do they need a conference for? They're already piddling their lies, half-stories, smears and Democratic fellatios into the marketplace of ideas with well-funded impunity.
There's no "debate". There's very little reliable information. There's no dignity.
It's boring and worthless.
I've abstained, mostly, from reading the hardcore political (activist) blogs since the little flameup with Joe Bodell last month. I am richer for it.