Tuesday, January 6

Michael Hirschorn at the Atlantic Does Not Have A Clue

You know, I just get done praising an excellent article in the New York Times and then something comes along which strengthens my belief that the Mainstream Media is out of their mind.
I just don't get how journalists don't get why they're being disrupted in a wholesale way.  The Atlantic just published an article by Michael Hirschorn that demonstrates he clearly doesn't have a clue.  Not only does not have a clue, the ideas he does have are so totally off-base, it would be amusing if it weren't sad.  Journalists think they are, quite literally, gods gift to the world. Without them, there is no possible way that people can understand what is going on.  The world NEEDS people who don't have any experience in the topics they write about to explaing things to them because clearly only someone without experience will truly understand a complex topic.
Some winner quotes:
The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind. And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy.

Uh, did he just say that the loss of newspapers will remove both furious widespread mental masturbation AND the "bulwark of democracy"?!  Seriously, newspapers lack of capability to find and tell the real stories of how things are is one of the reasons why our democracy is in danger.  Newspapers haven't bulwarked much of anything except the P.R. agency which plays them like little bitches.  Bulwarks my ass.
This prompted Henry Blodget, whose Web site, Silicon Alley Insider, has offered the smartest ongoing analysis of the company’s travails, to write: “‘We expect that we will be able to manage’? Translation: There’s a possibility that we won’t be able to manage.”
Really, did the bulwark defender just quote from a blog that has "the smartest ongoing analysis"? Wait until you read the next quote.  This is a classic.
Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.

Seriously, I can't write a better hypocritical statement if I tried.  The best part of those two quotes above is that they're actually the first and second half of one paragraph.  If he's not being funny then he's Exhibit A in Why Mainstream Media Sucks Ass.  He doesn't get that the reason why no one values sourcing and reporting is because the sources ARE MAKING THEMSELVES HEARD DIRECTLY ON THE INTERNET THROUGH BLOGGING.  I've been a source for reporters a few times and my experience is that they have no clue, take quotes completely out of context and are filling out predetermined outlines they've already created.  Seriously, they come to interview me because I'm the supposed expert on a certain topic and then they tell me to give them a "killer quote" about the topic that fits their outline.  Wha???  The American readership has picked up on this perversion of information and is now voting with their attention.  They're not voting for professional journalism.
The conundrum, of course, is that those 1 million print readers, who pay actual cash money for the privilege of consuming the paper, and who are worth about five figures a page to advertisers, are far more profitable than the 20 million unique Web users, who don’t and aren’t. Common estimates suggest that a Web-driven product could support only 20 percent of the current staff; such a drop in personnel would (in the short run) devastate The Times’ news-gathering capacity.

Really?  Because I have a friend that used to work for a prestigious newspaper and they would tell me about how they had scads of six-figure reporters who they were lucky to see in the office twice a year to file two stories.  Give me that job!  It's a license to steal and that's what journos have been doing and now that they've been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they're...well...f'd.
The Internet has done much to encourage lazy news consumption, while virtually eradicating the meaningful distinctions among newspaper brands. The story from Beijing that pops up in my Google alert could have come from anywhere.

Really?  Because I have about 140 feeds into my RSS reader and they all come from sources that have proven to me that they have value in terms of knowing WTF they are talking about and consistently writing about topics that are valuable to me.  I have to spend a lot of time keeping up with this news flow but it's worth it.  I'm consistently in front of critical trends and with critical information, which is...well...critical to my job.  Oh and the thing about the story from Beijing being from anywhere -- WTF?  See, this is the root of what is happening:  Journalism has become so dumbed down and believes that their readers are idiots.  Guess what, it doesn't take much to figure out when you're reading bad info.  Besides, it probably beats the crap that newspapers have been feeding us for years.
The article goes on and on about this crap for a long time, and eventually he starts opining about what strategy the NYT should use.  Listen, show me a journalist that understands strategy and I'll show you someone who left mainstream media awhile ago and started a blog network.  Rafat Ali understands strategy.  Light Reading understands strategy.  Nick Denton understands strategy.  I'll even choke down a shout out to Kevin Rose and Gabe Rivera -- although the jury is out as to whether they understand strategy or if they just lucked out by one of the million monkeys to accidentally type Shakespeare's works.
Here's the article.  Go visit it so that we can help this guy out as he'll clearly be out of a job soon.

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