Major Media Meltdown?

Glenn Reynolds‘ latest TCS column, “A Media Meltdown?” provides a roundup of the latest evidence that, not only is much of the mainstream media obviously biased, but that their collective incompetence and reputation for half truths is a major factor in the rise of the blogosphere and other alternative media outlets.

[W]hile the media’s willingness to side with Kerry has been striking, it’s also like the proverbial thirteenth chime of the clock — not only wrong itself, but calling into question everything that came before. The loss of credibility that has come with that, coupled with the press’s poor performance on all sorts of topics (don’t these people know how to use Google? don’t they realize that we do?) will be a long-lasting blow.

The media barons should be worried. The real problem is that to succeed in a business, you have to be better than your competitors at giving people what they want or need. The mainstream media needs to ask itself whether it’s capable of doing that — and, if not, how it needs to change.

Indeed.

FILED UNDER: Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. spacemonkey says:

    heh

  2. legion says:

    While Glenn is right about the end result – the decline in influence of major media due largely to reader mistrust – his belief that media bias is _only_ towards the left is beyond laughable. It swings both ways. If it didn’t, only right-wingers would read (or write) blogs.

  3. McGehee says:

    It swings both ways. If it didn’t, only right-wingers would read (or write) blogs.

    Let’s test this. Suppose the news media had a monolithically rightward tilt in NEWS “reporting,” with no significant exceptions. Now suppose the blogosphere developed, challenging the right-wing’s monopoly on news bias.

    Legion, do you really believe we righties would allow the left to have a monopoly on the blogosphere, or would we move in hoping to use the blogosphere to try to defend (as you’re doing with your comment) against charges of monolithic right-wing news bias?

  4. legion says:

    By and large, McGehee, yes.

    I think you’re missing my point – the reason the blogosphere developed is because many people are dissatisfied with mainstream media’s increasingly obvious biases. But if it was biased across-the-board in only one direction, “monolithically” as you say, there wouldn’t be a _need_ for such a broad multipartisan swath of blogs to spring up. The blogosphere, as we currently know it, _wouldn’t_ have developed; it’d just be an Internet backwater, populated with a shrill, widely-ignored group of Michael Moore or Pat Robertson clones (depending on your particular nightnmare scenario).

    Hell, that’s why I read OTB (and a few other not-so-shrill righty blogs) along with some talented leftys – there’s no objective reporting going on anywhere. At least bloggers wear their biases on their sleeves, so I can make a better-educated guess as to where the truth really lies. Just because some newspaper or network (or blog, for that matter) says something I agree with, doesn’t mean I swallow it without question.

  5. McGehee says:

    But if it was biased across-the-board in only one direction, “monolithically” as you say, there wouldn’t be a need for such a broad multipartisan swath of blogs to spring up. The blogosphere, as we currently know it, wouldn’t have developed; it’d just be an Internet backwater, populated with a shrill, widely-ignored group of Michael Moore or Pat Robertson clones (depending on your particular nightnmare scenario).

    You need to go back and actually give some thought to what I wrote. Your reply completely misses my point.

  6. legion says:

    If so, then it looks like we’re both missing each others’ points. Glenn’s column notes (accurately, to my mind) significant political bias in mainstream media, and then goes on to extrapolate the competitive threat of blogs and other alternative info sources. I noted that Glenn seemed to be railing against only liberal bias; as though there was no significant right-wing bias in the mainstream. I cited the proliferation of both right- and left- wing blogs as evidence that the bias (and the dissatisfaction) seems to be pretty evenly divided.

    You then wrote two paragraphs, one of which sets up a ‘what-if’ and the other one, I’m assuming, has your point – that righties would not allow the lefties to have the only voices in alternative media, regardless of the biases in the mainstream. I think righties (or lefties, if the positions were reversed) wouldn’t pay any damned attention to the blogosphere if the mainstream were really only tilted their way – I don’t believe the blogosphere could have evolved to where it is now if you change the initial conditions so radically. It’d be like an ivory-tower academic journal only read by other academics – a great big circle-jerk that the vast majority of the public would never even hear about.

    If Kos, Atrios, Oliver Willis, and Matt Yglesias were the only people writing (and reading) blogs, would righties really care? If the things they wrote, true or not, never made it into the mainstream news, would we even be having this discussion?