Safire: the bloggers are coming
Friday, January 21st, 2005
William Safire flatters bloggers with the leadoff position in his oped about the depressed press:
America’s quality media are now wading through the Slough of Despond. Our self-flagellation, handwringing and narcissism threaten our mission to act as counterweight to government power.
Hear the wailing: The bloggers are coming! The Bible-thumpers are cursing our secular inhumanism! The plumber judges are plugging our leaks! The Yahoo president ducks our questions and giggles at our gaffes! News is slyly slanted as bias rears its head!
Cheer up. Despite the recent lapses at CBS and previous mishaps at The Times and USA Today, here’s why mainstream journalism has a future.
1. On the challenge from bloggers: The “platform” – print, TV, Internet, telepathy, whatever – will change, but the public hunger for reliable information will grow. Blogs will compete with op-ed columns for “views you can use,” and the best will morph out of the pajama game to deliver serious analysis and fresh information, someday prospering with ads and subscriptions. The prospect of profit will bring bloggers in from the meanstream to the mainstream center of comment and local news coverage.
On national or global events, however, the news consumer needs trained reporters on the scene to transmit facts and trustworthy editors to judge significance. In crises, large media gathering-places are needed to respond to a need for national community.
Funnily enough, Safire wrote a brief column a couple of years ago mentioning bloggers (early to the worm), but suggesting that bloggers would never get ad revenues. Eventually, he’ll stop writing in the future tense. (Thanks for the lead Mom.)