Saturday, March 17, 2007

The new world of information -- TPM in the LA Times

I'm not optimistic enough to think that the existence of the Internet, by itself, will save democracy. That, as Tom Paine indicated, depends on the constitution of the people. However, if the people are there, the Internet sure helps.

Since spring of 2004 I have been following the news out of the Middle East and the United States very closely, out of curiosity and fear of the dangers that surround us. During that time, hardly an important piece of information or a real insight has first come to me directly from an established media outlet.

What I consider the real news-- surprising stuff that changes your perspective -- has usually come to me via an amateur reporters, in other words, a blogger. Most of the time the raw information is in the established media someplace, but has been buried or been left unanalyzed, and the report reflects a useless "conventional wisdom," i.e. what people think when they don't think. Blog reports or sometimes comments left on other people's blogs have provided me the essential warning signals that something big is happening that in another era I would have expected to be featured in the New York Times, but now isn't.

The same applies to commentary. So much discussion of the Middle East in particular is characterized by the arrogance and ignorance of high-paid columnists. When they are right about something, someone smart but completely obscure has beat them to the punch by 6, 12 or 24 months.

Perhaps things have always been that way, but now I, living in the remote cold countryside near a small obscure city have access to all this good stuff and very quickly, too.

Of course there is a lot of garbage on the Internet, too. It's just that diligent searching to find sites and forums that I trust has enabled me to locate a number that have less garbage than the New York Times.

How does this work? A very good article in the LA Times (read fast, it will be gone in a week) describes how an excellent site has grown from one guy and a computer to a small business doing well by doing good.

One thing that isn't mentioned in the article that should be. The established media are staffed by or owned by people who are fat and comfortable. Josh Marshall at TPM is hungry and mad as hell.


Blogger Will McLean said...

"The established media are staffed by or owned by people who are fat and comfortable."

I wonder how many of these people you actually know. None of the ones I know are very comfortable at the moment.

Publisher joke:

"I've thought about the impact of the internet on our business, and I sleep like a baby."


"Yes. Every two hours I wake up screaming."

10:48 AM  

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