Monday, September 29, 2008

quick riffs

Mayka sent a link to an old article from The Guardian in which Nicholas Carr defines blogs as, well, parasites that rest on the work that other journalists have already done. He says that's a good thing: The blogosphere, he writes, "acts as a kind of global echo chamber. An idea gets swatted around like a ping-pong ball for a few hours until a fresh one takes its place." And while it's bouncing around we all make more sense of it. Or at least pay attention.

In that spirit, a few quick hits:

It will be interesting to watch the reaction to the very conservative Kathleen Parker's column in the uber-right National Review Online, suggesting that Sarah Palin step down for the good of the Republican party. A trial balloon? An echo of intra-party talking points? A way to pre-spin the VP debate by shooting expectations down to negative numbers?

Speaking of spin, the Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz takes us for a spin inside the spin-doc tents after Friday night's debate. Pretty ridiculous premise, actually. Let's review: reporters who watched the debate need -- or will listen to -- partisans to tell them what they saw? Really? Hope there was food.

Still on the campaign: The Nation's Eric Alterman questions the pseudo-objectivity of news orgs that will report what politicians say --- but are reluctant to call them on it when they lie. Referencing McCain's accusation that Obama pushed for sex ed for kindergartners, he writes, "... many in the media cling to the belief that it is the calling of a reporter to report a politician's lies without apparent prejudice. In the Washington Post, not only did Jonathan Weisman and Peter Slevin take no position on the truth or falsehood of McCain's dishonest allegations; they waited a full eleven paragraphs before noting that the Obama campaign believed 'all of the accusations against him are a reach, if not fabrications.' "

I riffed about this earlier this month, and again last week. Our job: not stenography.

On another topic entirely, Editor and Publisher columnist Steve Outing outlines his vision for news 2.0 (or possibly news 3.0) as newspapers migrate completely online. Taking the "we are our own editors" concept one step further -- he calls it "The Daily Me 2.0" -- we would all configure our own pages on our daily paper's website, combining content from staff reports, wire services, news from unaffiliated websites, blogs, user-driven forums and even social networking sites. All at our own choosing. Interesting.

And finally: tabloid journalism. Tracing the history of the National Enquirer, Newsweek reports that the tab, which once had a circulation higher than the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal combined, is now, like its respectable cousins, falling victim to the internet, where celebrity gossip is quicker and cheaper. Love it or hate it, its headlines (my daughter once had her bedroom door plastered with them) are always good for a laugh. Like this one, from Newsweek's piece:

Cheers. bk


Jeremy said...

It's interesting that the E&P column didn't mention the New York Times' "My Times," which lets you personalize an aggregator of Times news and info. (

I also think this is the wave of the future for newspapers online (in addition to having a print product, mind you).

The Indianapolis Star, where I worked this summer, currently lets you move around sections of its Web site below the main headlines, so you can choose to put your neighborhood, sports, business or whatever else first. On it's features site,, it's getting even more interactive, and they are working to set up social networking there, too.

The advantage of this is that it creates a one-stop shop for users, especially if social networking is included. If they want to look up weather, movie times, or whatever else locally, they will do it on your site and read your site's ads.

When I was back in the Bay Area, I would always go to to check traffic. Why? Because that site was better than the newspapers and TV's traffic offerings.

The danger of this -- and all aggregates -- is that people will have tunnel vision, just reading what they want to, not what they need to.

Allison Wong said...

Tabloid journalism is really popular because it is in high demand. It is also easy to produce, there is almost no substance in the claims that they make. It's very sensational and it gets the attention. I have to admit that when I am buying something at the grocery store I take a quick look at the headlines of the tabloids. But most of it is garbage, with headlines like "REAL BIG FOOT FOUND!" how can you not discredit it?

shannon shenanigans said...

calling me out on the bedroom door, huh? that door was GOOD TIMES. Poo-poo choo-choo? Good times. Actually, I think that one was legit...