Commentary

The Day The News Died

The bizarre concept that is newstainment has crept into the American lexicon and bombarded our TV sets.

Like a tapeworm leached onto the intestine of American culture, it eats away at the rare opportunity we have to educate our citizens.

Ideological slants on the news, coupled with maniacal talking heads aiming for shock value over substance, are dangerous and growing trends. The misguided notion that it is okay to treat news as entertainment -- as long as it captures viewers -- has far-reaching ramifications for our democracy.

What would Water Cronkite say? (WWWCS)
This past July 16th, America lost the most trusted name in news, then 92 years old. Cronkite taught America about everything from World War II to Watergate, covering  the assassination of Kennedy along with the Vietnam War.

Cronkite represented a generation of journalists who believed their "moral imperative" was to inform, not cajole. He was perhaps the last of a great breed.

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Propaganda and racism are not new ideas
Propaganda has been around for as long as there are written records. In the 19th century, the American government took a cue from the British and began using mass media to spur its citizens to action. In the early 20th century, Woodrow Wilson hired journalists to help sway public opinion in support of the First World War. In recent years, our government has used propaganda to its advantage in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The search for balanced information is further challenged because bigotry and racism get magnified in economic downturns. It is all too easy for journalists to pander to an audience looking for someone to blame.

How is the average American supposed to get a balanced view?

Glenn Beck and other morons
I liked Glenn Beck better when he was still a drug addict. At least back then his absurd rants did not get confused with actual news.

Glenn Beck earns an astonishing $21 million per year by bombarding the American people via his radio talk shows, television's "Glenn Beck Show," his three books, and even a magazine he publishes. He is like Martha Stewart with a tear duct problem.

Childish pontificators like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly on the right stand alongside guys like Keith Olbermann on the left, warping the credibility of journalists. They come to the table with an agenda.

News has become theater, and bad theater at that.

In a comedian we trust
After Walter Cronkite died, a recent poll named "The Daily Show"'s Jon Stewart as the most trusted newscaster, beating out names like Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Charlie Gibson.

Satire is winning over "serious" newscasters. This speaks volumes about our nation's faith in the mainstream media.

How the hell does this relate to us?
My critics are going to have their fingers twitching to click the comment button and ask why this article is gracing the electronic pages of Online Publishing Insider.

The answer is really simple: we have the ability (and the societal obligation) to fix the problem.

The new, new community
We can fix the problem, because we control the audience.

Today's communities are no longer geographically based. The Web has brought together like-minded people to form communities centered on common interest and ideals.

We have an opportunity to use the Internet to educate Americans in unprecedented ways. We have the chance to use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to create small, trusted communities that can educate each other and serve as the filter.

The wisdom to protect our future
Allowing divisive, ignorant, and bigoted talking heads to control the public discourse is a huge mistake. To do so is tantamount to collectively accepting that we no longer value journalism.

As online publishers, we are the beneficiaries of the decline of newspapers and TV. In twenty years the overwhelming majority of communication via text, sight, and sound will flow through the Internet. Through our Web sites.

Soon, these idiots will be ouridiots. Are we going to choose pageviews over substance? Are we going to turn our backs on real journalism?

2009 is the year journalism died. Do we have the fortitude to bring it back from the dead?

36 comments about "The Day The News Died".
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  1. Randy Kirk from Randy Kirk & Associates, November 13, 2009 at 10:10 a.m.

    So if you are going to criticize with ad hominen attacks, how are you better than those you go after. Facts would be good. I have a law degree from UCLA, listen to O'Reilly and Beck with a critical ear trained to look for lies and distortions. Please give facts that support your suppositions.

  2. Tom Fraticelli from The Roanoke Times, November 13, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

    Nice try. It is impossible for humans to be truly impartial about everything (or nearly anything). The utopian idea of journalism has never existed. Cronkite chose sides. All journalists do because no one can completely separate their personal feelings from anything they write or report about. You even point out that Wilson was manipulating the media the same way Obama is today. How can we say that journalism ever existed?

    For those of you that are saying to yourselves, "I can be impartial," you are lying to yourself. Text books choose sides, reporters do, etc. Every piece of "news" is advancing someone's personal or political agenda. It happens on-line too and always will.

    Be smart enough to listen to all sides and filter the information based upon your personal experiences and make decisions for yourself. Remember that everyone has an ax to grind or an angle, no matter the media they choose to express it.

  3. Karl Debisschop from Pearson Education/Infoplease, November 13, 2009 at 10:22 a.m.

    You lament that 'Satire is winning over "serious" newscasters.'

    Without diminishing the need for facts in the discourse, satire is all about holding power to account and exposing the flaws in the party line. A strong component of satire may well speak to the health of the public's ability to critically evaluate the news of the day.

  4. Stanford Crane from NewGuard Entertainment Corp, November 13, 2009 at 10:23 a.m.

    If one were to only read your article, they might certainly conclude that journalism is dead.

  5. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, November 13, 2009 at 10:30 a.m.

    Somewhat provocative. But, in my opinion, "we control the audience" can not really be strongly supported. I think if new media controlled the audience, then television viewing would not have hit an all time this past month, nor would there be more 50 dollars spent in the "old media" world for every one dollar spent in the "new media" world. New media influence and control is more like the money being spent on it. About 50:1. Still very much in favor of the status quo for the most part.
    I find this article reflective of so much in the new media world - a bit self-centered, revolving only around what the writer knows and sees, while easily leaving out EVERYTHING beyond his own personal horizon. My guess is a youngish coastie, living in a metro area, happily ensconced in a techie, mostly "new media" world. Nothing bad, maybe more of a limited perspective.

    Also, the author may well be taking a page from the playbook of those he doesn't like. This article grabs only the sensational aspects of the "journalism/media problem" and does not write a word about the remaining 95+% of that same world.

    Yes change is happening and "new media" is beginning to show up on the radar, but that does not mean that the HUGE mountain of "old world" including solid journalism and news without an agenda has suddenly died and gone away. Much remains of this "old world" place. Unfortunately it is not getting much buzz, but it is still a 50:1 thing relative to its new upstart.

    my .02

  6. Mark McLaughlin, November 13, 2009 at 10:33 a.m.

    The trend described is accurate, the principles described for going forward are ideal. But, are they naive? It seems that capitalism drives media decisions by revenue dependent media companies. News coverage that is ignored creates no revenue.

    In a world of simple, limited and homogeneous media choices, you can program for a homogeneous audience as well. I'm afraid that this needs to be the case for a Walter Cronkite style and format to succeed. In very complex media environments and highly fractured societies, news media must pick a niche to pander to or it ends up ignored by all. So, there will always be a niche of the audience that wants pure, unbiased coverage of the news but it is probably the hardest group to program for.

    Capitalism is destroying high quality news programming, I agree. But, what is the better alternative?

  7. Bob Citelli from @Sales & Marketing, November 13, 2009 at 10:38 a.m.

    YOu had me leaning forward with this: "Ideological slants on the news, coupled with maniacal talking heads aiming for shock value over substance, are dangerous and growing trends. The misguided notion that it is okay to treat news as entertainment -- as long as it captures viewers -- has far-reaching ramifications for our democracy."

    But then lost me when you only pointed to the "moron" Beck on Fox. There are equally obnoxious, contentious, one-sided rating hounds posing as newscasters on the other cable networks as well.

  8. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 13, 2009 at 10:42 a.m.

    Can we stop lionizing Walter Cronkite? It's no doubt an oversimplification to say that his pronouncement that the Vietnam War was unwinnable eventually led to the massacre of 2 million Cambodians by Pol Pot, but we DO know (from the diaries of one Viet Cong general) that the North Vietnamese were seriously considering giving up the fight following the Tet Offensive, at least until they learned that Americas had been convinced we were losing. That's the problem with a SINGLE source of news. It has too much influence because it is seldom contrasted with competing interpretations. Left-wingers love Cronkite because he reported facts that fit the radical template. Overall, this essay sounds like something you could get away with at a small party of like-minded friends, but thanks to all these comments from the Internet, you can no longer just smile and sip your Merlot.

  9. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, November 13, 2009 at 10:47 a.m.

    I'm sick of the whining about how Fox News and talk radio have somehow destroyed journalism. It never existed in the first place. For those of us who lived through the hell of 50 years of left wing propaganda disguised as "news," the small amount of balanced perspective now available in the media is akin to a Dixie cup of cold water after crawling through a burning hot desert for hours.

    Perhaps the most offensive impersonator of a journalist in our lifetime was Cronkite himself, whose speeches and remarks in retirement made clear that his own politics always were on the far left of the spectrum. Predictably, the established media was careful not to share any of his ramblings with the public, thereby perpetuating its myth of a saintly, objective Uncle Walter for future generations.

  10. James Humphries, November 13, 2009 at 11:02 a.m.

    I agree that the line is blurring, but that is the evolution we are in and driven by money/ratings and Instant Internet Info. But why can't apparently "smart" people understand the difference between News and Opinion/Commentary/entertainment. It is pretty damn clear to me.

    Further, we have not had real news at the national level in this country for decades. Only promotion of left wing slant. Now any news or commentary that is either centrist or right leaning is trashed.

    And today, anyone that espouses common sense, libertarian principles are hung by the neck, yet those are the very principles our country was founded on.

    This world is upside down and the CEO of "BlueTie" is hanging there with the worst of them. If he really wants to "fix the problem" as he states, then help draw the line between the two and stop vilifying successful commentators who also happen to be conservative and make your liberal blood boil.

  11. Pamela Alford from EMG Productions, November 13, 2009 at 11:54 a.m.

    Were it not for Beck, O'Reilly and Hannity how the hell would we ever know what this administration and others in power are actually doing to degrade our rights, and turn this country into something our forefathers would not even recognize? Would you have us only listen to the Obama-loving liberal reporters that see no wrong-doing at all from this administration?

    No, I do not agree with every single word the Fox News reporters say, or every view expressed. But I am smart enough to realize when they present facts and evidence anyone can verify, facts the White House makes no effort whatsoever to dispute, that something is terribly wrong with the way things are going!

    You listen to any other network news and "things are just fine". Things ARE NOT just fine and until we rid Congress and the Presidency of these progressive liberals that have none of our best interests at heart, things will not be "just fine" again! I do not want to live in the world they are apparently hell bent on developing and the only network that tells us what they are doing is Fox. So get a clue, Pal!

  12. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 13, 2009 at noon

    If anyone has any doubt about us idiots, then please remember how many people signed mortgages without reading or having a lawyer present during settlement or even using a calculator. Remember how many used their homes as ATMs. Remember how many people spent beyond their abilitity to pay. Remember how many people cheered deregulation, poorly regulated interstate banking, the lack of knowledge between liberty and freedom, the embarrassing few people who vote (about 20% this November) and take pride in their ignorance.....Well, I can go on. It's just easier to drink the cool aide and keep following. As it as been said - keep 'em poor, keep 'em uneducated, promised 'em salvation and they will follow you anywhere. Jounalists - Commentators - Talking Heads.
    Who is paying?

  13. Theresa m. Moore from Antellus, November 13, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    These days I do not watch CNN too much. It used to be that the news on CNN was evenly spaced; that is, news of more than one topic was covered. Now we get the focus on only one topic at a time, and news documentaries over the weekend. There was also world news after 10 pm (PT), and the coverage was pretty comprehensive. Now there are only a few U.S. journalists on the channel, and they natter on ad nauseum about topics with are not of any world importance whatsoever. They prefer to talk about sex scandals among politicians when our soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, children in Africa are starving to death or being slughtered, and there is more than one nuclear missile aimed at us 24/7. The news everywhere is now five minutes of commercials in the middle of speeches, wasting even more time. I long for the days was just news, instead of endless commentary from this or that "expert" and what they call "comprehensive" coverage, which is just reporters standing outside and "relaying" information. On other channels they titillate us with five minutes of an important speech, only to give us commentary voice-overs from the reporters. I wish they would just shut up and let us listen. Sponsors should learn that good content and responsible journalism means staying out of the way, and maybe we will be more loyal to their brand. As for the creeping need to adhere to one particular reporter or another, that is not the way to absorb important news. Getting a broader perspective is, and you lot so loyal to this or that one reporter or narrow world view are losing out on the reality we confront every day.

  14. Michael Strassman from WGBH, November 13, 2009 at 2:57 p.m.

    You want facts...here's facts. 44% of those who self-identify as 'liberal' have a college degree or more education vs. 29% of conservatives and 26% of independents (source MRI research). The fact is that quiet, methodical journalism (a la the NY Times or NPR) always gets lambasted as liberal because genuine reportage and intellectual debate are more likely to come from 'liberal' sources, not because the sources necessarily have an agenda, but because the language of reasoned debate is foreign to a huge swath of conservatives. Which is not to say that you can't be smart and have a point if you're conservative, only that the far right has become increasingly the home of the uneducated and reactionary segments of society. Worse, lifestyle and media trends are conspiring to prevent anyone--liberal, conservative, or polka dotted--from being well informed or engaging in honest debate. But let's face the manifestly obvious truth...conservatives are more likely to be anti-intellectual cranks with disregard for the facts. Even hardcore liberal idealogues aspire to be objective and clothe themselves in the trappings of intellectualism and academia, while much of the right scorns eggheads and academics...how else do you get people debating the merits of creationism over evolution. I'll be the first to admit that mainstream media has problems and often a slightly liberal slant, but the majority of the problem stems from market forces, not political. News is a business, people want to be entertained, and in-depth, balanced reporting bores Americans and doesn't sell (except to a niche segment that can't support the current infrastructure costs of producing such news). I don't know the answer, but let's not pretend there isn't a problem and that news has always been a liberal con. Things have gotten bad, and they're gonna get a lot worse before someone figures out how to make journalism pay.

  15. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, November 13, 2009 at 3:51 p.m.

    I read one “fact” and a host of stereotypes and sloganeering cherished by the Loony Left in the 2:57 PM post. And that solitary “fact’ only makes my point and that of a few others here: If sources for a story come predominantly from liberal sources then it’s liberally biased reporting regardless of how many initials the source has after his or her name.

    The education level of the audience is far more important than that of the news source and Pew Research has made it clear that the most consistently informed audiences belong to political magazines, Rush Limbaugh's radio show, the O'Reilly Factor, news magazines, and online news sources -- and that these audiences, along with those of NPR and C-SPAN, are also much more likely than the average person to have a college degree.

    In the past five years, what the alleged “journalists” have passed off as “facts” have often been debunked by those in the New Media cited above. That’s a welcome, refreshing long overdue relief from the past several decades when talking headed idiots went unchallenged when they told us, “That’s the way it is.”

    If someone thinks the public needs to be educated by a new set of liberal elite intelligentsia, I have great news for him – today’s public is better educated and informed than ever, thanks to alternatives to the crap we had to put up with from the “quiet, methodical” media monopoly of the past.

  16. Bradley Jones from Brad Jones Media, November 13, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.

    I’m old enough to contrast the ‘good old days’ of “traditional” news reporting with today’s - what Mr. Koretz calls - “newstainment” and who then denigrates it for leeching away our opportunities to be informed. Believe me, sonny, today is better. Thanks to lively talk radio, edgy news commentary television, endless internet blogs people are far better informed and involved than ever before. Today’s news is pervasive and far more engaging than ever… and that’s a good thing.

  17. Michael Strassman from WGBH, November 13, 2009 at 5:27 p.m.

    People can debate whether news has gotten better/worse, but I can't see how anyone can argue that established news organizations are healthy, and when these established sources shrink or disappear we are left with an enormous gap. Yes, street-level reporting from bloggers and inspired amateurs can spread the responsibility of reporting, but it cannot replace the access and industry standards that enable major media to produce major investigative pieces on the occasions when it does live up to a higher standard. Mainstream media is falling short of its own standards for depth and accuracy, but it's still the only game in town in terms of having access to the people who make the news and it still provides an intermittent quality check on stories and how they're presented. Bloggers and the like rarely have access and have no one exercising editorial oversight.

  18. Ej Meany from IPC, November 13, 2009 at 6:03 p.m.

    Classic confirmation bias - in the post as well as the comments.

    Professional journalists can and do separate personal beliefs from the stories they are paid to investigate and report. It's part of the job for which they trained. I'm certainly not vouching for them all, but there are standards and ethics involved, and maintaining integrity will keep an educated audience coming back for more.

    Faddish broadcast entertainers like Beck, O'Reilly and Olbermann are paid to bloviate. Followers seek them out to have their beliefs reinforced, not to be informed. On the surface there's really nothing wrong with that. They are passionate about what they believe whether it's true or false. Just like their followers. Deeper, however, it's the vitriol that's a problem. Try not to hate so much! And the lack of critical thinking.

    But don't go making real journalists have to debate with the likes of Beck. He's copping from Colbert, who at least acknowledges he's an entertainer putting on an act, and Beck's not even a little bit funny.

  19. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 13, 2009 at 6:11 p.m.

    For all those that mistakenly believe that people do not take O'Reilly, Beck, and others as being news, look no farther than Pamela Alford's comment below.

    The reality is that we are blurring the lines between informative news, and biased opinions.

    And the public at large is clearly not smart enough to differentiate.

  20. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 13, 2009 at 6:25 p.m.

    For those that rushed to wave the conservative flag:

    If you actually READ the article, you will see that my criticism is not only for those on the right, but equally for those on the left like Keith Olbermann. The problem of newstainment is happening on both sides.

    Both are dangerous. Both are painful to watch.

    I am neither conservative nor liberal. I don't believe people can (or should) have all their beliefs bucketed into a single ideology.

    I am simply a person who tries to actually educate myself on each topic and then form my own opinion. I avoid merely parroting a viewpoint because I saw it on TV.

    You should give it a try.

  21. Mickey Lonchar from Quisenberry, November 13, 2009 at 6:27 p.m.

    Bravo, David, for elevating an ordinary media column into a piece of performance art!

    The irony, of course, is that the comment stream has proven your point better than you could have hoped. Was this all part of your secret plan? Talk about crowdsourcing...

    http://www.quisenblog.com

  22. Roger Wilson from The Conference Department, Inc., November 13, 2009 at 7:11 p.m.

    Old media is in trouble because of COMPETITION which is as American as apple pie. David is wrong about what we are losing but right about the c**p we are getting and right about our obligation to offer something BETTER. Those of us who think we have good information and worthy entertainment to sell have to prove ourselves in the market place. My personal motto in this business has always been "First figure out what you want to say, then figure out how to make it pay." I haven't gotten rich but I've made a good living. In a free capitalist society "dems da rules." The possibilities are endless and exciting.

  23. Bob Kiger from Videography Lab, November 14, 2009 at 1:52 a.m.

    Very pithy story. The theoretical concepts that you point out as symptoms of degradation in news also applies to virtually all fields of communication.

    Read the Mission Statement of Videography Lab at www.videographyblog.com

    You may find some theoretical reasoning that resonates with your story.

  24. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, November 14, 2009 at 2:02 a.m.

    I actually READ your article but I’m not sure you actually READ our comments. A significant number of posters have pointed out two things:

    1. The “straight journalism” of the past you extol was anything but straight. Over the past 30 years, enough survey data to fill a truck have shown traditional media outlets to be overwhelmingly staffed by liberal partisans with zero sense of balance in either their coverage or reporting, all while compiling an abysmal track record of getting facts straight. Those seeking the truth considered the old media painful to watch. Those who valued democracy considered them downright dangerous.

    2. New media outlets, particularly those offering a conservative perspective, draw better informed and better educated audiences than the previous monopoly ever did. They also expose the mistakes, distortions and occasional outright falsehoods of traditional media.

    Both the above points are so thoroughly documented as to make them painfully obvious to anyone with even a scintilla of objectivity. Thus, someone who accuses those who point them out as “waving a conservative flag” speaks volumes about his own perspective. “I am neither conservative nor liberal” sounds about as credible as a Chris Matthews report on Governor Palin.

    Let me make it simple: There is no “problem of newstainment.” A more diverse selection of viewpoints that produces better educated citizens is regarded as a healthy, long overdue change to all but those who long for the days when a handful of media outlets facing no competition dished out a single perspective under the guise of “objective journalism.”

    You’ve represented your thoughts on the state of the news media in this country as the enlightened opinion of an expert. As a former journalist myself, I always found it best to become as thoroughly educated as possible on a subject before parroting an opinion on it.

    You should give it a try.

  25. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 15, 2009 at 1:05 p.m.

    @Dave,

    The conservative media is the "exposer of mistakes and distortions?" Did you read that on the back of a Snapple cap??

    This week Fox News was outed for using old footage of a rally to make another rally look better attended.

    Total fabrication to support their viewpoint.

    Who outed them? Not the liberal news media, but The Daily Show (which was admitted by Fox on air).

    You can paint me liberal if you wish with your ad hominem attacks, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

    I am annoyed by those that wave the conservative flag. I am equally annoyed by those that wave the liberal flag.

    Flags typically get waved the strongest when there is the least amount of data to back it up.

  26. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, November 16, 2009 at 3:40 p.m.

    I'm well aware of the Fox News faux pas and was tempted to bring it up in my post to prove a point. But since you're either not grasping the dissenting comments or ignoring them, I limited my focus.

    You correctly note that one cable news show (albeit a comedy) corrected another cable news show, yet you don't acknowledge that this illustrates the value of competition between news media outlets with opposing perspectives (or as you call it, "newstainment.") And that's not even considering the case of a blogger blowing the whistle on a broadcast anchorman who tried to pass off a fabricated memo as fact a week before a presidential election.

    I don't know how much you followed the news media before the advent of talk radio, FNC and bloggers, but such competitive policing between the handful of talk-alike news media outlets never existed back then. Far from the negative picture you paint of the current environment, this partisan competition is far healthier becauses it keeps those outlets more honest and produces better informed audiences.

    Instead, you keep wanting to hammer this supposed need for nonpartisan "straight reporting." I'm probably a little older than you so please trust me: STRAIGHT NON-PARTISAN REPORTING NEVER HAS EXISTED AND NEVER WILL.

    Coverage -- what subject matter is "newsworthy" -- always has and always will be decided by a publisher and/or editor. Reporting -- what facts within that subject matter are pertinent -- always has and always will be decided by a reporter. Every news story we read, hear and watch are products of the perspectives of as many as three (or more) individuals. In the words of NY Times reporter David Halberstam, "Objectivity is bulls---." If you don't grasp that, I don't know how else to say it.

    What you call "waving the conservative flag" is anyone with the temerity to point out that the recent phenomenon of a conservative perspective on news coverage / reporting / commentary is extremely healthy because it counterbalances an overwhelming liberal perspective that has been around for decades. Fifteen years from now if 75% of the news you watch is from a conservative perspective, you'll hear me singing the praises of MSNBC.

    You seem to want to label anyone who disagrees with you as conservative and people who do that are, by definition, liberal. Maybe you're not but you're putting on a convincing act.

  27. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, November 17, 2009 at 9:31 a.m.

    David misses the fact that, when the left and right agreed with each other, their dual choke-hold on the US media blocked other points of view entirely.

    There is a very easy way for David Koresh to prove to himself that the media openly blocked points of view that both the evangelical right and Marxist left *agreed on*. David, please call Eduardo Porter of the New York Times. Ask him about an article he wrote in October 2005 about the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. His draft condemned the law for violating the rights of US males by demanding they be background checked before meeting Russian women via dating websites (as if foreign women are children needing protection in their own countries from contact with Americans). But Eduardo will admit that his editors rewrote the article to fit the Marxist feminist point of view that meeting foreign women was "exploitation" by "losers". But that was the New York Times. Nobody could ever expect them to provide an opposing point of view to the Marxist party line.

    But then, David, you can call the "conservative" Pittsburgh Tribune and speak with Dmitri Vassilaros. He wrote a big expose on the unconstitutionality of the above IMBRA law but he was told by his publisher (so-called conservative billionaire Dick Scaife) that the expose would not be published. Apparently, too many readers would be upset to see the newspaper acting like it was OK for US men to meet foreign women online, which some "Christian" organizations said was like "sex trafficking".

    Since common sense will tell anyone that there is nothing wrong with an American meeting a Russian and that, in any case, there is a basic human right to do so without government intervention, why was it that the mainstream media wouldn't let anyone put a word in edgewise about the IMBRA law? The answer was because, wherever "evangelism" and "feminism" agreed, no opposing viewpoint on anything could get through.

    It was just a mess before, David. Now we have sanity when we get away from the populists on TV who are at least being honest about their populism. Now people in the middle can break through via social media where gatekeepers silenced them before. Viewpoints that are vilified by both the far left and the far right can get expressed.

  28. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media, November 17, 2009 at 7:33 p.m.

    David, this is hilarious. You are so guilty of the exact same thing you rail about in your article. You are the "Glen Beck" of mediapost.

    You write ambiguous articles with controversial headlines, backed up by little or no facts. hmm... sound familiar. You don't offer solutions, only finger pointing. Which is exactly what you accuse FOXNews and MSNBC of, kind the pot calling the kettle black.

    You also seem to think that all online publishers are news outlets, we are not. I'd be willing to bet that most publishers are not reporting the news. So to say we all have to do something (not sure what) about this newstainment problem, not sure exactly who you are speaking to? Fark maybe (but that is funny headlines on real newsm so bad example)

    Most disappointing is that you rarely, if at all, actually write about online publishing. Basically, you write newstainment.

    Sorry, David, the news isn't dead.

  29. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, November 18, 2009 at 2:41 a.m.

    Last week TechCrunch spent 7 days doing major investigative journalism on fraud in the online gaming industry concentrating on a company we will call Z. Then, coincidentally, the New York Times did a story on Z saying that the online gaming industry was doing well and Z was their leader. Readers were stunned. Hadn't the Times journalist been paying attention to the blogosphere? Z's president was begging for forgiveness in the comment sections of several blogs while the New York Times treated him like a king (who might buy ads).

    The New York Times may just as well have reported that Michael Jackson was alive and well and planning a concert with Elvis next week. The article was that far off in never-never land.

    That might have been the day the news died....at at least in terms of newspaper credibility with the tech industry.

    Another example of how the blogosphere is more robust than the old media for protecting us from corrupt politicians:

    For the past 2 years, several US Congresscritters have been accused by various blogs of taking bribes to add outrageous things to legislation. The bloggers were specialists who knew immediately what the meaning of changing a sentence in a new law might be; plus what special interest group would benefit from the change.

    Low paid journalists would almost never understand the possible meaning of the devious ways a law's wording can be manipulated. For this and political reasons, the accusations on the blogs were totally ignored by newspapers.

    But the FBI did not ignore the blogs (and phone calls from blog readers).

    In October 2009, the Washington Post finally reported that 6 US Congressmen are under serious investigation for fraud. Google their names and you will see that blogs were on top of the story at least a year or two before the Washington Post was finally forced to mention the issue.

  30. Roger Wilson from The Conference Department, Inc., November 18, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.

    So, where do we go from here? We’ve seen quite a few self-righteous posts stimulating a little defensiveness on the part of our good author. He may have a romantic view of the old media establishment but his points about the problems and the opportunities going forward are good. Isn’t the problem is age-old?

  31. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 18, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    @Jonas,

    I don't write news AT ALL. I am not a reporter.

    Like every author of OPI, I offer my opinion and perspective. That is what we get paid (nothing) to do.

    You manage to find fault with every column I have written regardless of the topic.

    If you don't like reading my columns, then stop reading them.

    Only an idiot keeps doing the same thing expecting a different result.

  32. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 18, 2009 at 1:53 p.m.

    @ Jerry & Roger,

    I agree that blogs are often responsible for breaking news these days, and some are more credible than the major news outlets. The challenge with blogs, IMHO is that it is hard for the average citizen to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    As for old media, they were clearly far from perfect. That said, as many readers pointed out, they were annoyed to find out that Cronkite was so liberal in the speeches he gave AFTER RETIREMENT. The simple fact that his political bent did not become known until after he stopped being responsible for presenting the news, is in my mind proof of his journalistic integrity.

    The go-forward solution is so challenging because any regulatory body, or evaluator of the news outlets is going to themselves be subjected to the same biases.

    I think we should hold our journalists feet to the fire on the basis of what they present. Further, I think they should be held liable if they present materially inaccurate information. This is the same standard they use for slander/libel cases today.

  33. Michael Perham from CrossTech Ventures, LLC, November 19, 2009 at 10:17 a.m.


    'True' journalism has been dead for years, who are we kidding. The mechanism for delivery is changing, that's all.

  34. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media, November 19, 2009 at 2:23 p.m.

    @ david

    Your response to my comment is exactly the childish retort I would expect from Beck or Limbaugh.

    Thanks for further proving my point.

    And for the record, I never accused you of being a journalist.

  35. Stuart Long from HotFussDesign, November 28, 2009 at 1:47 p.m.

    David Koretz is proving to more than just a good writer. With this article he’s becoming an important one as well. Although I don’t agree with most of the assertions in this article; I’m glad Mr. Koretz has the freedom to make them. Although Glen Beck may have been more “likeable” at the darkest point of his life, he did manage to survive and overcome his drug use. He was right about ACORN, many other issues and the White House seeking artists for the purpose of creating propaganda to influence the American people.

    Freedom of expression is eroded when the government wants to slant the truth for political gain. The artist who created the picture of Barack Obama made up as the Joker with the word SOCIALISM as a tag line was expressing himself freely. His creation wasn’t government funded with a political agenda. It was influenced by what the artist had seen. If you judge people by what they say, they may seem to be very impressive. Impressive enough to win Nobel Prizes they didn’t earn and don’t deserve. If you judge people by what they do (which is what Glen Beck does) you can see them for what and who they really are. Free speech is valuable even if at times not easy to hear, look at or read. Government propaganda is an abuse of free speech as it is a slanted distortion to promote a political agenda.

    Most people are smart enough to consider every option and then do what will cause the least amount of harm. Networks need ratings and all of them air programming that is intended to attract and hold as broad and diverse and audience as possible. I don’t see anything irresponsible or reckless about using old footage to illustrate a point if it’s done during an opinion program.

    Most viewers are discerning enough to tell the difference between fair and balanced news reporting and an opinion show. Most people are not discerning enough to determine what is and what isn’t propaganda.

  36. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., November 29, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    @Stuart, Thanks, and you make a lot of great points.

    I couldn't support any more the rights of Glenn Beck, the artist who painted a negative Obama or any other person who wishes to voice their opinion.

    Free speech is as vital to our democracy as unbiased news.

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