Thursday, December 03, 2009

More on Journalism and Blogging: Murdoch and Huffington

Arianna Huffington had an excellent post the other day discussing the Internet and its relationship to a revolution in news. I'll get to that in a moment.

One of the reasons many of us took to the Internet beginning with the 2000 election was the failure of the big newspapers and networks to keep up with the news and actually report it.

Of course it continues even today. Chris Matthews after Obama's speech showed clearly that he misunderstood Obama when the President said, "...we are not as young—and perhaps not as innocent—as we were when Roosevelt...." Matthews during his 'analysis' exploded that he personally didn't feel guilty about anything. Uh, poor Chris didn't seem to get that Obama was not talking about innocence and guilt, he was talking about the greater naivete, inexperience and idealism we as a nation once had.

Now I would rather have Chris Matthews around than not—not even counting Fox News, there are worse journalists out there—but a lot of us need more perspective, more voices and at times we need to locate the reporter in the room who actually has the facts rather than an opinion (Chris Matthews also blundered by calling West Point the enemy camp. It was such a stupid comment that he's apologized).

But besides inadequate analysis, there's also a sea of noise out there. Steve Vockrodt of True/Slant has a great headline that doesn't require reading much further: "WHICH WINS WEDSNESDAY NEWS BATTLE: TIGER WOODS ADMISSION OR OBAMA AFGHANISTAN POLICY?"

The other ridiculous news story of the week, which has received far more news than it's worth, is the story of the publicity seeking White House gate crashers. There are, unfortunately, news sites who want me to pay for reading such silliness.

Look at these headlines for December 3 2009 that I found on the Internet:

"Somalia Graduation Day Suicide Attack"

"Putin Drops Hint About Run for Russian Presidency"

"Gates: Afghanistan Surge Could Require More Than 30,000 Troops"

"Blast Hits Iranian Pilgrims' Bus in Syria"

"Rabbi Urges More Tolerance for Muslims in Europe"

"US Envoy to Visit Pyongyang on Asia-Russia Tour"

"Bhopal: 25 Years of Poison"

There are more headlines out there but how many of just these stories will appear in local newspapers or on the late news? Not many. In fact my local paper has gotten so thin that my wife and I decided to subscribe to The New York Times three days a week. Keep that in mind when Arianna Huffington is talking about Rupert Murdoch's parochial thinking about the Internet. Here's an excerpt from Arianna's post but it's worth reading the whole thing:
In his speech this morning, Rupert Murdoch confused aggregation with wholesale misappropriation. Wholesale misappropriation is against the law -- and he has legal redress against that already. Aggregation, on the other hand, within the fair use exceptions to copyright law is part of the web's DNA. Period.

At HuffPost, aggregation goes along with a tremendous amount of original content including original reporting and over 250 original blog posts a day. And we love it when someone links to one of our posts, or excerpts a small amount and links back to us.

Most sites understand the value of this and the way the link economy operates. It's why HuffPost gets hundreds of requests from news outlets asking us to feature their material and link back to their site. They understand that the web is not a zero-sum game and that consumers love the freedom to be able to follow where their interests -- and the offshoots of a story -- take them.

I suspect Rupert Murdoch is more motivated by wealth and power than he is by good journalism. Yes, he's a conservative but there are conservative news outlets out there that don't pursue nonsense with such glee. I once saw Rupert Murdoch in New York surrounded by his sycophants trying to get his ear. It was apparent he was thriving on the arrangement. He's partially responsible for the tabloid journalism we've seen for some years now and it's good the Internet provides a way to push back while also getting informed.

I'll add one last point: I find it exhausting to read everything that's on The Huffington Post. That's okay because I don't have to. I take a quick look at it in the morning—that's how I found today's post—and move on to my other favorites. If I missed something hot, somebody somewhere will have a post on some must-see offering on HuffPost. That's the new paradigm.

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