Can bloggers and the mainstream media get past their prejudices against one another, and the bitter invective that is a product of that prejudice, and work together to enrich both their work?
That’s the question at this panel, “Blogs and the MSM: From Clash to Civilization.” Speaking are Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for Politico; Jill Filipovic from Feministe; Jay Carney, Time Washington bureau chief; and Glenn Greenwald, author, pundit, and blogosphere superstar.
Allen claims that the days when the MSM thought the bloggers were pajama-wearing wahoos are over. There was initial suspicion on both sides, because motives were unknown and everyone looked new and strange. But now, says Allen, we’re heading towards an increasingly symbiotic relationship.
Greenwald takes a very different (and less conciliatory) tack. He points out that while many establishment journalists blog (see Time‘s Swampland) and many bloggers have been co-opted by the traditional media (see Greenwald’s work for Salon), there is still a vast difference between how the groups approach the government (reverential vs. skeptical) and how willing they are to state the truth when it is harsh (for example, no establishment media actually stated the NSA wiretapping program was a violation of an American law, which it was, when it was revealed). Greenwald followed Allen and Carney’s kind words for the blogosphere by ripping the media, Time and Politico specifically, at great length.
Take home point from Greenwald: Journalists think bloggers want them to become partisan. Actually, bloggers just want journalists to be adversarial and skeptical.
Now they’re opening the floor to questions — Allen and Carney are going to get killed. I’ve got a question for Carney, but the lines are about ten deep at each microphone, so I’m not going to get a chance to ask it. I’ll put it here: “Time magazine’s columnists currently include Joe Klein, Bill Kristol, and Peter Beinart, all men who supported the war in Iraq. My question is, how badly does one need to screw up to lose plum media positions?”
The mainstreamers here are really laying it on thick. Allen just spoke at length about how bloggers help keep journalists honest and accountable. Carney says the top editor of Time is a huge proponent of Time‘s staffers engaging with the blogosphere.
Greenwald doesn’t let up. He hits the mainstream press for being too cozy with the people they cover, and for reporting the claims of the administration without evaluating them. That is, when the administration claims 2+2=5 the media feels an obligation to include the claim in their stories, along with an opposing expert that says 2+2=4. Why not do more factchecking?
One fun anecdote. Carney, asked about his budget and staff, says that Time‘s Washington bureau has a “modest staff of 13 or 14 correspondents.” Politico, according to Allen, has 50 staffers who cover Washington. Heavens. The new Mother Jones DC bureau is/will be seven folks, plus interns. And we’ll do just fine, thanks.
Update: We’ve just had like eight straight questions bashing the mainstream media. Just think of every dissatisfaction you’ve ever had with the press — I promise you they’ve come up.