Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Self Important MSMer Holds Disdain For Bloggers

I love to slap these people around and it is due to the fact that they simply do not get it. Bloggers filled a niche that the MSM refused to do itself. The niche? Actually reporting news, which they have not done for some time. They ignored the Dan Rather story that ended up getting him removed from news reporting. They ignored the Reuters "fauxtography" scandal during the Israeli/Hezbollah war back in 2006. They flat-out refused to actually dig up anything negative about Barack Obama, but they derided Sarah Palin as some hick from the sticks.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Paul Mulshine decides to take a swipe at the blogosphere in a typically inept fashion:

When my colleague at the Newark Star-Ledger John Farmer started off in journalism more than five decades ago, things were very different. After covering a political event, he'd hop on the campaign bus, pull out a typewriter, and start banging out copy. As the bus would pull into a town, he'd ball up a finished page and toss it out the window. There a runner would scoop it up and rush it off to a telegraph station where it would be blasted back to the home office.

At the time, reporters thought this method was high-tech. Now, thanks to the Internet, a writer can file a story instantly from anywhere. It's incredibly convenient, but that same technology is killing old-fashioned newspapers. Some tell us that that's a good thing. I disagree and believe that the public will miss us once we're gone.

It does depend on the dead-tree that goes by the wayside Mr. Mulshine. The Tribune company has been slashing jobs, and closing doors on newspapers for the better part of a year. The New York Times is trying to cut it's assets in an effort to save itself, and recently put it's brand-new building up as collateral for a loan to keep it's doors open. The newspapers that are suffering are that way for two important reasons.

First, the bias in newsrooms has translated to the paper's pages, and people are sick of "journalists" telling them what is and is not the truth. That is not what a journalist's job is. They are to report the facts of a news story, and let the readers decide what they will think about it.

Second, there are stories that are not reported on that the average person can find elsewhere, namely on the Internet. The New York Times does not want to talk about the clashes in Gaza? The average news-oriented person can go to Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post, or even the BBC to find the story.

But what is his problem with us?

The problem is that printing a hard copy of a publication packed with solid, interesting reporting isn't a guarantee of economic success in the age of instant news. Blogger Glenn Reynolds of "Instapundit" fame seems to be pleased at this. In his book, "An Army of Davids," Mr. Reynolds heralds an era in which "[m]illions of Americans who were in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff."

No, they can't. Millions of American can't even pronounce "pundit," or spell it for that matter. On the Internet and on the other form of "alternative media," talk radio, a disliked pundit has roughly a 50-50 chance of being derided as a "pundint," if my eyes and ears are any indication.

Aside from his low opinion of the average American, he is wrong. And I might also note that he did misspell "pundit" the second time he typed it, so I suppose he is among those Americans who cannot spell the word, no? And by the way, the alternative spelling of "pundit" is "pandit" according to the Oxford-American dictionary.

But we can do it. Look at PajamasMedia for an example of how bloggers have been reporting on news and opinion, and doing a very good job of it. PajamasMedia, or PJM, was established by a group of the best, well-known bloggers in the blogosphere. Glenn Reynolds was one of it's founders, as was Charles Johnson, Roger L. Simon, and Michelle Malkin. Each one of them is vastly better than the regular pundits that people read in the dead-tree rags. Maureen Dowd? Eugene Robinson? David Brooks? E.J. Dionne? Please. I should also note that PJM has also gone on to vlog, or video blog with many of it's contributors in yet another challenge to the MSM.

Now we're hearing the same thing about the blogosphere. "When enough bloggers take the leap, and start reporting on the statehouse, city council, courts, etc. firsthand, full-time, then the Big Media will take notice and the avalanche will begin," Mr. Reynolds quotes another blogger as saying. If this avalanche ever occurs, a lot of bloggers will be found gasping for breath under piles of pure ennui. There is nothing more tedious than a public meeting.

Incorrect gain, Mr. Mulshine. Plenty of smaller bloggers do report on town meetings, or city council meetings. And while they do admit that the meetings are tedious, they are there for one important reason: To inform the public what occurred during the meeting in question because government -- be it federal, state, or local -- has a bad habit of keeping the public informed of the machinations they conduct. I would be willing to make a wager that most Arizonans are unaware that as of January 1st, if you have a decorative border on their license plates that obscures the name of the state, they can be pulled over and cited for that. It is a blatant attempt to rack up fine money because the state is bankrupt. Would anyone really know about it? Not unless one paid attention to the state legislature, which many of us do. Reporters from the Arizona Republic that cover the legislature did not bother to report that little revenue generating charade.

The common thread here, whether the subject is foreign, national or local, is that the writer in question is performing a valuable task for the reader -- one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the "executive summary." Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

It is true that many bloggers have ads on their sites, and they do receive compensation for having those ads. In essence they are not doing their blogging for free.. We do not have ads on our site, and we do what we do for free. We do not need to have the revenue coming from ads, and many readers have complimented us in not having the annoying ads cluttering up our site. We abided by our reader's wishes.

Take, for example, the immigration reform bill that was killed by the people of this nation. The people NEVER would have reacted the way they did had it not been for talk radio and the blogs reporting on the details that A) those in the Senate refused to divulge, and B) those in the media refused to ask direct questions about. Hugh Hewitt did yeoman's work in going over the draft legislation with a fine-tooth comb, and finding that the devil is, indeed, in the details. His knowledge of just how insane this legislation was led to a a revolution in the country on a grass-roots level.

I suppose Mr. Mulshine was busy when the people of America practically melted down the Capitol Hill switchboard, which prompted a derisive backlash from the Senators trying to ram that legislation down the collective throat of the nation. But he cannot deny that a group of bloggers lead the way in helping to take down that faulty piece of legislation, and he cannot deny that we did what the media refused to do.

He concludes in stating one of the obvious reasons why newspapers are going under -- advertising. Yes, newspapers are losing ad revenue but they are also hemorrhaging subscribers. As with TV news, they are losing ad dollars as well as viewers. Why is this happening? The product is substandard, at best; the arrogance of those reporting the news, or offering editorial commentary, at worst.

The media was given First Amendment protections at the time of the founding of America because the government understood the media had to have the ability to cover and criticize those in power. Dubbed "the Fourth Rail" in politics, journalists were able to cover the government -- federal, state, and local -- with an honest and unbiased eye. But those days are long gone, much like the early days of the reporter on a beat filing a story with the home office. Today the media looks at itself with an almost imperialistic view; that they, and they alone, have the experience and talent to report on the news. But they do not do the news. They rely on injecting opinion into news stories. It is not overt, and it takes a trained eye to spot the commentary, and separate it from the news.

Mr. Mulshine comes from a long line of pundits that heaps disdain on bloggers, and for no apparent reason. To the media we must be a threat, of sorts, to them. Otherwise why would we continue to see opinion pieces like this informing readers that we bloggers are nothing more than amateur upstarts with big egos? Thomas and I do not have any sort of ego. We do what we do because we like it, and obviously our readers appreciate our commentary.

There is an old adage that when an Irishman says you are drunk, you need to sit down. Mr. Mulshine needs to sit down.



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