Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I, for one, owe this guy a beer

You have to read Billmon today, who remind us what journalism should be.

Keeping track of what those in power say -- and holding them accountable for it -- is not brilliance. It is (or should be) the stuff of ordinary journalism. It's the kind of thing the American media used to do, sometimes -- before 9/11 and our endless "war" on terrorism caused it to shut down the part of its collective brain devoted to critical thinking.

The fact that some dinky little blog now has to do the job does not reflect great credit on the blogger, but rather great shame on the media. Like the rest of American society, American journalism appears to have flushed some of the most important lessons of the Vietnam War down the toilet.


But what the media seems to be lacking these days is a short-term memory. Things get said, then dumped on a hard drive somewhere and forgotten. Maybe it's just a function of information overload -- too many press conferences, too many hearings, too many Sunday talk shows. And, in a era of corporate media "synergy," not nearly enough journalists to cover it all.

I don't know. But sometimes it seems the net effect is the same as if the media didn't report this stuff at all. Party lines can be set, hyped, revised and discarded all within a few news cycles. Maybe that's the real irony: In a media world in which information overload blends everything into a featureless white noise, the Orwellian vision of an infinititely elastic "truth" becomes attainable.

But, as the reaction to my post shows, we're not there yet. Journalism may lost its memory, but it's still willing to borrow the blogsphere's.

Rock on, Billmon.


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