Thursday, May 10, 2007

New media explained

At City Journal (motto: "Not Just Theodore Dalrymple anymore!") Adam D. Thierre writes on the Golden Age of Information (that is, rat cheer 'n' rat now) and those who fear it--or worse, don't even recognize it:

Throughout most of history, humans lived in a state of extreme information poverty. News traveled slowly, field to field, village to village. . . . Few knew how to find printed materials, assuming that they even knew how to read. Today, by contrast, we live in a world of unprecedented media abundance that once would have been the stuff of science-fiction novels. We can increasingly obtain and consume whatever media we want, wherever and whenever we want: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the bewildering variety of material available on the Internet.

This media cornucopia is a wonderful development for a free society—or so you’d think. But today’s media universe has fierce detractors, and nowhere more vehemently than on the left. Their criticisms seem contradictory. Some, such as Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, contend that real media choices, information sources included, remain scarce, hindering citizens from fully participating in a deliberative democracy.

Dennis Kucinich (scroll down to find Dennis, but read the whole thing: classic Tim Blair) wants to bring back the Orwellianly misnamed "Fairness Doctrine." But he's, you know, an idiot. What's Bill Moyers' excuse? Allegedly a journalist, the sixties relic said this at the Just-Us-Moonbats media convention last year:

And today, two basic pillars of American society, shared economic prosperity and a public sector capable of serving the common good, are crumbling. The third pillar of American democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack, and the channels of information are choked. A few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape in America. Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media common conglomerates. Two-thirds of today’s newspapers are monopolies. As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace; and those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are undergoing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content and to shift their focus in a mainstream direction, which means being more attentive to establishment views than to the bleak realities of powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people.

The bleak realities of powerlessness. Moyers never got over LBJ making him come in to the bathroom so the president could talk while he (in the immortal words of O.J. Simpson) pinched a loaf.

But, as Theirre points out, there are also those who
argue that we have too many media choices, making it hard to share common thoughts or feelings; democracy, community itself, again loses out.
That sounds like Oliver Kamm, the leftie English semi-blogger (no comments) who understands certain things (the danger posed by Islamofascism, mainly, and that David Irving is an evil asshole liar), but who hates the new information age, and, particularly (sniff), blogs:

The overproduction of opinion is the most debilitating of the blogosphere's effects on our political culture. In my article I pointed out that, in the conversation that blogs conduct, you need no competence to join in. . . . Bloggers do after all consider themselves to be engaged in "citizen journalism"; and they are not journalists of any kind, because they do not operate under the same constraints as journalism does. What they are instead is a self-selecting sample of political activists untrammelled by editorial standards of quality or factual accuracy. And these are the people - as I demonstrated with reference to a dispiriting speech by a senior Conservative, George Osborne MP - whom political parties profess to be listening to. Bloggers ought not to be listened to, but, like any other lobby, politely discounted.

Besides ignoring the somewhat self-correcting nature of the blogosphere (though too much can be made of that point) Kamm has the elitist leftie (Chomskian) notion that people are too stupid to discern the truth among so many competing, unedited ideas, or to understand that others might be trying to manipulate or lie to them.

He also thinks the BBC isn't biased.

Anyway, Thierre thoroughly debunks both what might be called the "pinch-a-loaf" and the "will-you-please-be-quiet-please?" arguments.

(via Bill Hobbs)

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