03.15.2010 09:22 AM

Citizen media vs. The Boring Old Farts

Roy McGregor, in a typically gentle and gentlemanly fashion, has waded into the MSM vs. New Media fracas, here.

Personally, I don’t think he has anything to worry about. The so-called New Media will never supplant the old farts. They write better than we do. They are less predictable than we are. And, most of all, they generate original content – we merely comment on it. Very different. (But if the MSM continues to ape my species, instead of sticking to what it does best, the MSM is done like dinner.)

Why, then, do we keep seeing nervous, self-doubting articles like Roy’s? Ten reasons:

1. Bloggers are writing for a growing audience; journalists are writing for a shrinking audience.

2. Bloggers can’t be let go. Journalists live in continual fear of being let go.

3. Bloggers don’t have anyone telling them what to do. Journalists do, all the time.

4. Journalists used to believe they could write stories that could change things. Now they know they don’t change things much at all – and that bloggers have the ability to change things, too.

5. Bloggers seem to be having more fun.

6. Bloggers don’t have a beat. They can write about whatever they want, whenever they want.

7. Bloggers get to do what most news reporters would prefer to be doing, which is analyzing the news, and not just reporting it.

8. Bloggers don’t have many rules. Journalists have to put up with tons of rules.

9. Bloggers can post stuff that is written up, or filmed, or heard, or any of the above. Journalists don’t have as many options. They have to choose.

10. Internet is the future. Newsprint is the past.

And that’s why the MSM hates the New Media. You’re welcome.

10 Comments

  1. Rduckham says:

    You left out one really important reason:

    Bloggers actually do research for their articles, Newspapers just regurgitate press releases.

  2. Jeff Jedras says:

    This isn’t bloggers vs. journalists, you can leave bloggers out of it. The challenges MacGregor identifies go to how to practice journalism and how media organizations can succeed and thrive in the Internet age, when the Web is fragmenting their audience.

    People are going to the Web to get their news but they’re not going to blogs, that’s irrelevant to the equation. They’re still getting their news from MSM sources, but rather than buying a newspaper or watching a broadcast, they’re going to the Web, searching for the content they want, and getting just that content. And while before they’d get their US politics update from the Globe, or maybe the NY Times if they lived in a major centre, now they can get it from any of thousands of news sources online.

    The result is greatly fragmented audiences as readers evolve to new ways of procuring and consuming news. It’s a model that poses challenges for the media, both in terms of finding a new advertiser/monetization model, as well as how journalists can/should adapt.

    MacGregor tends to focus on the latter, the pressure of journalists to deliver traffic and the compromises that could force to their journalism. I tend to believe the pressure should be ignored: good journalism will always find an audience. The challenge is adapting the business model to help advertisers reach their audience in this new Web world, and that’s a job for the business side of the MSM, not the journalists. On this side the industry has lagged: Murdoch’s misguided war on Google News a prime example.

  3. Brian says:

    I think the “MSM” has a great deal to fix, and much to atone for. Weak opinion is replacing serious reportage in far too many MSM outlets. But…

    —RDuckham wrote: “Bloggers actually do research for their articles, Newspapers just regurgitate press releases.”

    What planet are you blogging from? The vast majority – north of 99% – of bloggers are merely partisans regurgitating the same partisan press releases the reporters regurgitated once already. “Yum – it’s predigested!”

    To Warren’s credit, he admits it. His virtue is that he doesn’t pretend to be doing anything other than adding his own comments. Meanwhile, many of his ‘competitors’ really think they’re vox populi and Edward Murrow after all.

    • Warren says:

      True dat. I have not broken one story – not one! – in the ten-plus years I’ve had this ridiculous web site. The only time I’ve generated news here is when I’ve poured gas on myself and lit a match.

      Same for other such web sites. We don’t generate content – we regurgitate other people’s content.

      Ew. That’s gross.

  4. Tceh says:

    MSM is still in the drivers seat when it comes to breaking news. Who has the resources or time or connections to break news. The next best thing to do is react. Some of the reacting is well done, others not so much.

    I have watched bloggers react intelligently and accurately but it all depends on their reach as to whether their message will get out or not. What I find frustrating is watching the news organizations continuously get the story wrong and/or report the story in only a lightly researched way, then move on to the next new thing as quickly as possible. Some bloggers have expertise on one issue but know the issue very well. If you pick who you read and counterbalance the MSM message with the blogger message sometimes the blogger is head and shoulders above MSM reporting on a particular subject.

  5. mar says:

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    Visit the website that the Canadian House of Commons and many Universities across North America have as well.

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    It’s an ingenious form of white collar crime:

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    This all adds up to a personal ATM; at the expense of Canadian Taxpayers!
    ——————-
    Google

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    or

    http://medicine-gone-bad.blogspot.com/

  6. Aurelia says:

    I don’t understand where this rosy lovely view of journalism came from, but I always thought there was a VERY strong component of ratings, and papers sold, and how often they were passed on so the ad companies could figure out how many eyeballs were seeing the ads and set ad rates accordingly.

    Gee whiz, guess I was wrong and it was all a charity venture from the start? Or maybe we have some heavy nostalgia for days that never were?

    About the idea of how to make money in a new media world? Well, Tina Brown spoke at BlogHer09 and said that she had learned that old media ad salespeople are being used to sell ads for the new media side, except that they don’t understand it, and so they don’t do well at it. They need to relearn how to place ads and do the technical part, but they.just.don’t. So she is hiring new people. And she makes money.

    There are a lot of ways to make money on the web, but companies have to be willing to change, and take risks. And they aren’t. And you can’t have journalism, without that money.

    As for bloggers not breaking stories, sorry, that only applies to the Canadian political bloggers. (And not all of them, some do break stories) http://www.themudflats.net/ This American blogger, at Mudflats? He investigated everything about Sarah Palin, and he broke it. Not the MSM. Same for legions of female bloggers and e-patients and others who are changing the way health care works, almost single handedly by telling their stories, and being asked to Capitol Hill to talk to the White House.

    And as for the MSM being better writers? Hmmm, well I’ll remember that the next time another blog friend of mine gets a book deal or gets hired to write for Federated Media, or gets a writing award.—Some mainstream media are great writers, and some are awful. Some bloggers are great, and some are awful. You know what I find most interesting? The women who write on the web, who are former journalists and lost their jobs after having kids and refusing to work 100 hours a week. And now they work for themselves, and make more money.

    Maybe that’s a good thing?

  7. mark says:

    I read a story in the paper today about a spat between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras at a charity tennis match. Problem for the paper is the event happened last friday, I read and watched video about it on Deadspin the next day and the paper tries to pass this off as news on Tuesday? That sums up why print papers are dying.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Have you heard that joke about – what are all those old newspaper hoarders living among stacks of papers . . going to do now that newspapers are going the way of the dodo?

    Might cut down on a few house fires. I have mixed feelings – about it; but I don’t subscribe to newspapers, and the reason I always give them is that it’s just too much paper; and it is. Having paper publications disappear might not be such a bad thing from an environmental pov. Pulp and paper plants are horribly polluting, and responsible for the loss of a lot of trees. One plant in BC caused really thick heavy fogs, that caused accidents. It pollutes rivers, and air – it’s time for it to stop.
    If they started using hemp paper, that would help, but it’s still a lot of paper.

    And the ink rubs off on stuff and makes things dirty. I like to sit and read something physical – but not all that much. I don’t like to do a ton of reading on the internet, because I don’t like staring at a screen for that long — so I’m finding that I listen to CBC radio more now; although they get on my wick at times – it is an alternative.

    Death of the Newspaper
    http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/01/26/090126crat_atlarge_lepore

    http://www.newspaperdeathwatch.com/
    Chronicling the death of Newspapers, and the Rebirth of Journalism.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    One word — eye problems; eyestrain to glaucoma.

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