Monday, November 1, 2010

HuffPo No Better Than Cable News

It's a good thing that I never attempted to set limits on topics that I would touch on this blog, because this post will violate any reasonable standard of what is a worthwhile to blog about.

There's a lot of interesting fall-out in the media from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Most of the commentary is incredibly shallow or plays up the same high noise-to-signal ratio which is my complaint about the modern media landscape. Take the HuffPo noting Keith Olbermann attacks Jon Stewart for "Jumping the Shark" article for example. Keith Olbermann tweeted that Jon Stewart was espousing "naiveté" in suggesting that "everybody on Thr cable is the same," which is a valid position: If Jon Stewart wants to criticize the rhetorical arms race in establishing competing echo chambers/noise machines, the players in the noise game should point out that they are in a dilemma. Hegemonic discourse is probably worse than splintered discourse for the country, even if the tone of the splintered discourse is vitriolic. Olbermann reacts to the criticism of the media environment by pointing out that liberals are forced to engage in this game. I think that Olbermann's and MSNBC's tactics are not optimal in responding to the GOP/Koch Brothers Media/Fox News complex, but that's what they're hired to do. Essentially, the "hate the game not the player" principle applies. That's Stewart's point, and he provides a viable alternative (after all, 200K+ came out to hear a critique of the media which was based on an hour of comedy each night).

And this is precisely the discussion that the Huffington Post could explore by calling a few sources, getting some sides of the story, and writing a thoughtful piece. They could do some basic journalism. Instead, they focus on the non-substantive lead-in to Olbermann's comments, "It wasn't a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now...". That's a pretty annoying example of the media failing to reach the substantive level, deciding to amplify the pointless bickering when in fact Olbermann was trying to get a point across. There's simply no room to get an argument into the media, even for a media start like Olbermann. It seems that in today's media environment, as soon as a message gets outside of your immediate control, you lose all ability to transmit information.

I guess that's why I started a blog- to allow other people's arguments to retain some meaning, as well as provide my viewpoint. It's just too bad that your popular journalism today doesn't attempt to transmit other people's messages. The HuffPo is trying to get hits, and like the Drudge Report, you do that by putting in big simple headlines that seem provocative regardless of the substance of the story. I don't think I should have to produce my own media to avoid this type of avoidance of journalistic responsibility.

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