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How the press can help rebuild the American conversation (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Columbia Journalism Review ^ | November 2, 2010 | Editorial

Posted on 11/02/2010 12:45:36 PM PDT by abb

In his wonderful book, The Earl of Louisiana, A. J. Liebling takes many a detour on his way to explaining that state, and in one of them he talks food. Specifically, he asks why food is so great in New Orleans and so bad sixty miles or so to the north. More specifically, he discusses PoBoys.

Liebling and a companion stop at a joint north of New Orleans that promises “Shrimp, BarBQue, PoBoy” but delivers heartbreak: “The BarBQue was out, the shrimps stiff with inedible batter, the coffee desperate.” As for the PoBoy, the traditional fried meat or seafood submarine, Liebling reaches a sad conclusion: “A PoBoy at Mumfrey’s in New Orleans is a portable banquet. In the South proper, it is a crippling blow to the intestine.” He goes on to discuss the many varied influences that make New Orleans such a delicious cultural gumbo.

What’s true about food is true of ideas: they get better when they’re adjacent in the pan. Ideas—particularly political ideas—are meant to be shared, to redefine themselves over the blue flame of discussion. Consumed in isolation they taste bland. Kept too long they get rancid. That’s a problem in America, where we increasingly live in separate information silos. In uncertain times the tribes gather close. People don’t talk to outsiders.

Media trends aren’t helping the situation. There is simple shrinkage, for starters. The Chicago Tribune used to cover the Midwest; now it covers Chicago, barely. And ideological fracturing: Fox News and MSNBC, as everyone knows, profit by preaching to their respective choirs. It’s not the end of the world—the objective approach isn’t the only one that has value. Still, a massive retreat into ideological niches is hardly restricted to cable TV, and it doesn’t help the nation address its challenges.

The battered mainstream press has a mission here that can frame its work and maybe even energize it: helping to rebuild the democratic conversation. The key is not some namby-pamby civic sewing circle. Rather, the press should work toward the kind of earned authority that provides some common factual ground. Some suggestions:

• Ignore the bias bullies. If you are intellectually honest in your reporting and in story choices, stop cringing every time somebody says you are not.

• Stand up for facts. When Michele Bachmann insists that a million people came to Glenn Beck’s D.C. march, she’s no different from Louis Farrakhan, who insisted in 1995 that his Million Man March was just that. It wasn’t. But with the exception of CBS News, most media went he said/she said on Beck.

• Stop groveling. The Portland Press Herald took heat from readers for publishing an end-of-Ramadan feature on an auspicious date: 9/11. But there is a way to say, “We should have had more 9/11 coverage” without apologizing for a story about a legitimate segment of the readership.

• Do what you do best—deep reporting backed by institutional processes. David Carr recently described the impact of his first online scooplet like this: “Boom.” He compared that to the impact of an October investigative piece he wrote in The New York Times: “Boom. Boom. Boom.” The difference? “There were many versions” of the article that finally ran in the Times, “lots of feedback from near and far, fact-checking, copy-checking and double-checking, all part of the practical effort to publish something as accurate as possible in a defined space.” All of that comes through to readers. Of course the Times brand didn’t hurt, but that is the point. There are, in scale, journalistic brands all over America that still have clout.

Civic discourse won’t be rapidly repaired in the wake of an angry election like the one that just ended any more than PoBoys will become an art form in Arkansas. But the press can best help rebuild the forum that makes democracy work by being its best self.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: advertising; circulation; dbm; newspapers
These poor clods STILL haven't realized they don't control the information flow anymore!
1 posted on 11/02/2010 12:45:42 PM PDT by abb
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To: 04-Bravo; 1cewolf; aimhigh; andyandval; Arizona Carolyn; Bahbah; bert; bilhosty; Caipirabob; ...

ping


2 posted on 11/02/2010 12:47:16 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

Yup.

Like the 45% rise in grocery costs since O’bumsteer took office.

Deathly silence in the MSM, but a topic of conversation with tables, graphs, and charts at places like FR.

We don’t need or want a gate keeper.


3 posted on 11/02/2010 12:50:11 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.8)
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To: abb

http://www.wlu.edu/x51860.xml
Dan Rather Addresses W&L Journalism Institute

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=136&aid=193748
Proposed Internet Guidelines Unlikely to Fill Content ‘Doughnut with an Empty Center’

http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2010/10/launch_of_newsp.html
Launch of Newspaper Extinction Timeline for every country in the world

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/nov/02/newspapers-digital-media
Wilkinson: accept that newspapers are dying, now do something positive


4 posted on 11/02/2010 12:58:00 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

How ‘bout, Read the Constitution.


5 posted on 11/02/2010 1:02:14 PM PDT by TornadoAlley3 (Obama is everything Oklahoma is not.)
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To: abb

Tank you useless , traitorous MSM slimes!

You shame the 1st amendment free speech rights we have.


6 posted on 11/02/2010 1:05:32 PM PDT by Candor7 (Obama . fascist info..http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html)
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To: abb
Photobucket
7 posted on 11/02/2010 1:13:32 PM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: abb
Civic discourse won’t be rapidly repaired in the wake of an angry election like the one that just ended any more than PoBoys will become an art form in Arkansas. But the press can best help rebuild the forum that makes democracy work by being its best self.

Gawd, the elitist leftist arrogance drips from this like grease from a goose.

Conversation, the media doesn't want any friggin' conversation. It wants us to sit and be propagandized by leftists posing as journalists.

8 posted on 11/02/2010 1:27:18 PM PDT by Plutarch
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To: Plutarch

Isn’t that just amazing?


9 posted on 11/02/2010 1:37:14 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

I gather that this guy thinks everything will be OK with the press as soon as they move a little further to the left.

If it weren’t for Michelle Bachman, things would be much better. She’s the one who is messing everything up.


10 posted on 11/02/2010 1:52:56 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius.)
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To: Cicero

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=132&aid=193820
It is Time for the FCC to Reboot the Media System


11 posted on 11/02/2010 2:05:37 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: abb

• Ignore the bias bullies. If you are intellectually honest in your reporting and in story choices, stop cringing every time somebody says you are not.

No they don’t get it ABB. But when I heard the WSJ was trying to bleed the NY Slimes with a larger and better New York WSJ section, I did my part and subscribed to the WSJ.

I enjoy a good newspaper and doing my small part to bankrupt the slimes.


12 posted on 11/02/2010 3:04:01 PM PDT by SanFranDan
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To: abb

Libtard intellectuals identify a problem then rely on their median henchmen to pick from a list of usual suspects a scapegoat to blame and attack.


13 posted on 11/02/2010 3:20:20 PM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: abb

thanks for the ping


14 posted on 11/03/2010 10:39:57 AM PDT by GOPJ ('Power abdicates only under the stress of counter-power." Martin Buber /a Tea-nami's coming..)
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To: abb
Ignore the bias bullies. If you are intellectually honest in your reporting and in story choices, stop cringing every time somebody says you are not. • Stand up for facts. When Michele Bachmann insists that a million people came to Glenn Beck’s D.C. march, she’s no different from Louis Farrakhan, who insisted in 1995 that his Million Man March was just that. It wasn’t. But with the exception of CBS News, most media went he said/she said on Beck.

What a fool. The MSM HAS BEEN IGNORING the 'bias bullies'... the whole time. THEY have NEVER acknowledged us... ever. And if this fool thinks they have, let me see IN PRINT an example of the change in reporting. And I'm not talking about the self styled 'suffering' of guilt ridden liberals who get off on such things, but SOME PROOF of effort to combat bias. There is NONE.

Second point: Why didn't Mr. I'mUnbiased use the example of over-count in the Daily Show rally? Why Beck? The suck up press gave Farrakhan a pass - and they gave Jon a pass... BUT we hear about Beck?

My hope and prayer is for this type of liberal elitist assh^le to continue giving advice to liberal elite dems. He can tell them to ignore the people, they're soooooo superior... Their words will give us a wonderful world. A world without a liberal MSM and a country with so few democrats they won't be able to elect a dog catcher. Go for it, you liberal elites, you're so much better than the rest of us - spread your word far and wide...

15 posted on 11/03/2010 10:54:42 AM PDT by GOPJ ('Power abdicates only under the stress of counter-power." Martin Buber /a Tea-nami's coming..)
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