Patching a sinking ship
Posted by aogMonday, 09 May 2005 at 11:14 TrackBack Ping URL

According to Instapundit the New York Times is trying to heal its credibility. Reading over the recommendations, I don’t find it a very compelling program for actual results.

My favorite recommendation was “reduce factual errors”. Doesn’t that just encapsulate the liberal mindset? Factual errors are a problem, so reduce them. What could be simpler than that? How to do it, well that’s just an implementation detail we’re work out later.

Related to this are the continuing cries from that same liberal media about how uneducated and ignorant Americans are. But I think that Americans are in generally becoming more informed because of the ease of information access on the Internet and that is precisely why both Old Media is suffering and why the liberal elite thinks Americans are ignorant. Americans no longer meekly believe in whatever “truths” are held by the chatterati, which makes them uneducated in the liberal viewpoint.

We all know that it’s a common experience to read a newspaper article about a subject in which one is an expert and realize just how little understanding the journalist had of the subject. Now the blogosphere has created two trends that make this problem much worse for Old Media. The first is weblogs, which allow other people to experience the dismay of the experts. While no weblogger is an expert in everything, most are expert in something and can demonstrate the massive failure of Old Media in that area, while other webloggers pass on the experience. The second is online search engines, where if some one wonders about some claim in an article, it is now far easier to look it up, which frequently demonstrates how biased the article is. Note that both of these trends are ones of increasing access to information, not burgeoning theocratic ignorance.

What can Old Media do? Not much. The essential problems are parochialism and lack of expertise. I don’t see what Old Media can do to fix either one. While theoretically they could encourage intellectual diversity on the staff (to ameloriate parochialism) or learn how to use a search engine, this is simply not in the ideological interests of the people who run Old Media, not to mention being a lot of work. I don’t believe it will happen.

I think it’s more likely that what are now large scale media companies will decay in to small, niche companies, like The Nation. It will simply not be possible for a single company to have sufficient expertise and points of view to dominate news the way Old Media has for the last few decades.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Tuesday, 10 May 2005 at 15:18

A few knowledgeable conservatives hired to review their pieces pre-publication would probably pick up a lot of wrong or dubious factoids.

aog Tuesday, 10 May 2005 at 16:02

Perhaps. But if so, why haven’t they done that already? It also wasn’t mentioned in these recommendations. Finally, there’s the issue of whether the Old Media is capable (in general) of determining that someone is a conservative and knowledgable. Based on the kind of people selected as experts or talk show hosts, that seems a dubious proposition.

pj Wednesday, 11 May 2005 at 21:25

Because the facts a conservative would recommend for inclusion are facts the Times wants to conceal. They’re a storytelling and viewpoint-propagation outfit, more than a news organization.

This gets to your point about parochialism. They want to be parochial. If they wanted to be cosmopolitan, the blogosphere is full of conservative experts they could hire. Tom Maguire (Just One Minute) would be a perfect Times conservative fact-checker.

End of Discussion