Convergence of Blogs and Mainstream Media
Mickey Kaus, reflecting on Katie Couric’s apparently ghostwritten and re-edited blog, sees a larger lesson:
Maybe this post-Imus arrangement is inherent in the technology of the Web. 1) The Web lets individuals express themselves to the world in a way that’s very difficult to suppress. But 2) the Web also makes it much easier to organize campaigns to pressure those media institutions–i.e. CBS and NBC–that can be pressured via their advertisers. Therefore, as the Web takes hold, individual blogs become freer and wilder while big, advertiser-supported MSM outlets head in the opposite direction, becoming even more controlled and anodyne. Just a theory. Maybe even a numbingly obvious theory. But for a while there it looked as if the MSM was going to get more loosey-goosey like everyone else.
Bryan Murley noted some time back that, as popular blogs start making significant money from advertising, they would take on many of the characteristics of the mainstream press that we have long criticized. There’s some truth in that. Certainly, monetizing traffic increases the already strong ego-driven incentives to write about things that will appeal to a larger audience and, more significantly, to chase that brought in by search engines. It also further incentivizes getting something up fast rather than taking the time to do research and reflect on the topic.
At the same time, though, there has been a lot of pressure on the mainstream press to become more like blogs and, especially, to either create their own blogs or buy up existing ones. The problem, though, is that blogging ethics are very different than those of traditional journalism. Having posts vetted by an editor before they go live and changing post content after publication without disclosure of that fact are simply anathema to traditional bloggers.