Skip to comments.Briton Hadden Spins in his Grave
Posted on 01/06/2007 5:33:42 PM PST by Congressman Billybob
I first learned journalism in the Briton Hadden Memorial Building. Hadden died at age 31, so few people know that Time magazine and its whole empire were his idea. He and Henry Luce worked together on the Yale Daily News. Shortly after graduation, they created the magazine.
Later, having taken the credit for that creation, Henry Luce donated the Hadden Building to the News. It was in that building I learned the rules of journalism: gather the information who, what, when, where, why and who. Then write in pyramid style so when the editor chops your work, the least important parts are cut from the bottom.
For thirty years, I thought Time offered the most intelligent, witty, thorough writing in news. Like most people covering current events, I envied the reporters of Time. D*mn, I wish I could write like that. Now, it has changed. Thank God I dont write like that.
Time magazine violated all parts of those rules of journalism in its cover story on its Man of the Year issue on 25 December. Im not spoiling the surprise here to say that they named me, which is to say you and a few million other users of the Internet, as the Man of the Year.
Having chosen this accolade and loosed dozens of reporters and editors on the subject, Time failed to understand the subject and reported it incompetently. Thats why I conclude Briton Hadden is spinning in his grave.
Lets review what happened in this issue of Time.
The importance of the Internet is NOT the millions of people who are using it. If that were the story, the flush toilet would be the MotY. The importance of the Net is the cultural changes its causing. Thats the story Time missed.
I couldnt understand why the George Allen / macaca story was the lead item from Matt Lauer on NBCs Today Show about MotY., Once I bought and read the MotY issue, I understood. Lauer was too lazy to do his own reporting. He assumed Time got it right, and repeated their mistake.
The story that shows the culture change, that a new means of communication had taken over, was not Allen / macaca. Its not even certain that event dominated the outcome of one Senate race. The true turning point was the downfall of Dan Rather at the hands of some guys in their pajamas who backed down CBS news, and brought down Dan.
Not only did the alternative medium defeat the traditional one on the false documents, for the first time the alternative drove an issue, and defeated one of lions of the old media. That one event was the electronic equivalent of Gutenbergs invention of moveable type, which gave books, beginning with the Bible, into the hands of the people, rather than merely the elite.
When you read the six main stories over 42 pages, you get the impression that Time had a dim idea of what had just happened in communications and society in 2006. They had a dim idea of the coming changes in politics, journalism, communications, and retail sales.
What Time did NOT understand, was that differentiation between what is true and useful, and what is false and misleading in this new medium, has also been invented. Time had their chance. They referred to Thomas Paine as the first blogger. But in their ignorance of the era of Paines writings, they missed their own point.
There were bloggers opposed to Paine. Others argued the folly of war against England, that we should negotiate to settle our differences. The people exercised their sovereign judgment about what was true, and determined the matter.
This was the process that Thomas Jefferson predicted, and praised. But Time is not up on Jeffersonian theories of politics and communications, either. So, they missed the story, and embarrassed the memory of their founder.
People youve never heard of, who work and write for free, think better than that on the Internet every day of the week. Forget Time. They are old news, and bad news. Dont be deceived by Wikipedia, which Time touts. Its flaws and failures are well-known. Just read any subject on the Internet with discrimination, and youll have more and better information than the MSM (mainstream media) have.
For example,. I knew before the MSM that the Shuttle Columbia was burning on reentry. While the MSM were awaiting the landing in Florida, I was reading a current thread on the Net, where a citizen-reporter with a high-powered telescope reported the shuttle was trailing burning parts. Its a matter of knowing where to go and who to read, to find truth on the Net.
Post Script: I seldom encourage financial contributions with my column. Heres the third exception. The Old Barracks Museum in New Jersey has just closed for lack of money. This is the Museum for the Battle of Trenton, Christmas Day, 1776, the turning point of the Revolutionary War. The politicians in NJ have cut the aid to the Museum. Its closed, and laid off its re-enactors and Director. Help as you can: www.barracks.org
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About the Author: John Armor is a lawyer specializing in constitutional law, who may again be a candidate for Congress in the 11th District of North Carolina. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu
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Yup - sounds like FreeRepublic (slight Right tilt)
And yet for every story like this, there's a dozen where people report it too early, before all the facts come in. I remember a lot of threads concerning the Montana election, for example, that turned out to be completely false, yet people still asked "why isn't the MSM reporting this?" This place is fun to come and read opinions, but for late-breaking news, I find myself questioning it more than I would the mainstream press.
I look for websites that are highly accurate. And within such sites, I look for individuals who have the apparent background to offer as much accuracy as I demand of myself. Even then, I remain skeptical.
But with all those caveats, the Net remains a better source for accuracy on politics than the New York Times, because I know the Times is lying -- I just don't know how much, and on what "facts."
John / Billybob
Hohn / Billybob
Barracks.org - Viva la revolucion!
the unfortunate and untimely defeat at Trenton has thrown us further back than at first apprehended, from the great encouragement it has given to the rebels. I do not now see a prospect for terminating the war, but by a general action, and I am aware of the difficulties in our way to obtain it, as the enemy moves with so much more celerity than we possibly can. General Howe 1777
"Not only did the alternative medium defeat the traditional one on the false documents, for the first time the alternative drove an issue, and defeated one of lions of the old media. That one event was the electronic equivalent of Gutenbergs invention of moveable type, which gave books, beginning with the Bible, into the hands of the people, rather than merely the elite."
Gentlemen, take a well-deserved bow!
I'll never forget that morning. I was reading the thread, then turned on the TV. They had no idea yet.
The first "turning point" was the Monica Lewinsky story busted wide open by Matt Drudge. Here, it was Time Magazine that published the story and then spiked it-too late. This Dan Rather Story is really just an affirmation that the MSM does not have air supremacy anymore.
I knew . . . the Shuttle Columbia was burning on reentry while the MSM were awaiting the landing in Florida . . . Its a matter of knowing where to go and who to read, to find truth on the Net.And yet for every story like this, there's a dozen where people report it too early, before all the facts come in.
This place is fun to come and read opinions, but for late-breaking news, I find myself questioning it more than I would the mainstream press.
Skepticism is always prudent, and the shorter the deadline the more skepticism is prudent. Since we-the-people express our sovereignty only at election time, unless we are invaded "breaking news" is a dispensable luxury which is heavily taxed with error and fraud.The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam SmithHalf the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin Franklin
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