This is the continuation of my long multi-part post on the “Open Source/PJ” media launch at Solomonia last November. I have divided them up differently this time and made slight changes.
Keynote: Preaching to the Great Unwashed
But the best was for after lunch. Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a InstaPundit) introduced keynote Judith Miller. Why Judith Miller? Why not Glenn Reynolds (whose book “An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths” with a scheduled date release of March 2006 is already a best-seller at Amazon)? Like Elizabeth Hayt in the first panel, she admits she doesn’t blog, she only really found out about them when she was in prison and didn’t have internet access, and actually, she admitted later in the discussion as she entertained the suggestion that she really should blog, she finds the prospect quite “terrifying.”
Why is she here? Because she’s the Martha Stewart of journalism? The current MSM celebrity? Because various key legislation swirls around her case? Okay. Whatever. I guess I just happen to have other concerns. But wait, what’s that she’s saying?
“Let me tell you the five commandments of journalism.”
Huh?!? What does she think she’s doing?
Apparently she views herself as the representative of serious mainstream journalism who has come to give some elementary ethics and advice to these junior journalist bloggers so that they too could aspire to the heights of mainstream excellence.
Is this dramatic misreading of the audience due to “lack of curiosity” as Austin would put it dryly, or the result of such intense cocooning that she doesn’t know to whom she speaks? (Are these two sides of the same coin?) Is this a whiff of that characteristic arrogance that has given us so much MSM misbehavior, including the Olympian disdain that prompted Dan Rather to talk about those “those guys sitting around at 2:00 AM in their pajamas”? Oh wait, she’s also NYT, or was.
It could only get surreal from this point on. Her first three commandments were elementary, known to anyone in the room, perhaps useful to recall, but hardly keynote timber. But then the whopper: “Fourth commandment: If you are wrong, acknowledge it prominently, and follow up with further stories.”
Silence. My jaw dropped. Even she squirmed, distancing herself sotto voce from the NYT editorial policy on this. This woman wrote for a paper with a scandalous record of “correcting itself,” with some of the worst misreporting on its record, including the Holocaust on the back pages just to name one of the more staggering… Nor does it have any institutional memory of such catastrophic failures, as it careens into a similar lack of understanding and a systematic downplaying of another round of genocidal ferocity aimed at Jews.
One of the main causes of the blogosphere’s success comes precisely from the brick wall that descends from the MSM any time serious corrections are in order. The case we work on at Second Draft, that of the “martyr” Muhammed al Durah is one that had spectacularly destructive initial impact and never got “followed up” on even as plentiful evidence emerged that the media had gotten it wrong emerged… with few exceptions that really went nowhere, for five years now. Embarrassingly wrong. Anyone who has read Renata Adler on the combination of superciliousness and arrogance that characterizes the NYT attitude towards self correction had to laugh at this lesson in MSM ethics. Or cry.
After all, what characterizes the blogosphere — and may explain Miller’s terrified attitude towards it — is that if you have a thin skin, you’re doomed (well, not so Juan Cole — added). Don’t expect polite coddling, don’t expect to escape correction — immediate correction — if you mess up. Bloggers are accustomed to a level of give-and-take which the MSM has systematically insulated themselves from — with tragic consequences. (Could we say that blogging is on one level the record of letters to the editor that the MSM refused to publish?)
Next, Part IV: Who’s in What Century/Millennium?