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Shouldn’t Old Media be concerned that Matt Drudge, the world’s most powerful journalist, bears no resemblance to traditional journalists? 3/2/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.

Here’s a headline you will never see in Old Media: “Matt Drudge: world’s most powerful journalist.” For that, you’d have to read London’s Telegraph, even though many American journalists know it is true. He broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he has been driving coverage in the Presidential primaries, and he just revealed Prince Harry’s frontline service in Afghanistan. The DrudgeReport is consistently among the top 10 news sites, a ranking he shares with only one newspaper — the NY Times.

The reason Old Media cannot admit he is the best among them is that he defies just about everything they believe in. He is fearless, in part because he is an outsider who requires no favors from those in power. He is an editor/aggregator, not a reporter. He is totally independent, publishing without review by others. When he breaks stories, his verification processes are unknown and he often publishes rumors. He gives equal billing to entertainment news and stories that are sensational or satisfy prurient interests. He is a conservative populist, not a Beltway liberal. He lacks a college degree, much less one in journalism.

Matt Drudge is the primordial life form of the New Journalist, so Old Media must begin to learn from his success and copy him. Editing/aggregating is what the future of journalism is all about, as the public learns that reporters have been little more than middleman-repeaters of stories that now can be told directly by news sources themselves. The good news is that there is room to improve upon what Matt Drudge does, for example by adding opinion and creative style to the aggregated facts, or aggregating audiences of particular value to advertisers. But, for Old Media firms looking to survive, a headline like “Matt Drudge: world’s most powerful journalist” should be read as if accompanied by his trademark flashing siren.


1. Michael W. Perry - 3/2/08

Yes, but he also broke story on the Prince Harry in Afghanistan, a pitiful bit of attention-seeking sensationalism that briefly put all British combat troops there at higher risk from a kidnap attempt aiming to capture a royal. In the long run ruined Harry’s praiseworthy attempt to serve his country with distinction.

One reporter, traveling in the Bahamas just before WWII, had what he later termed the story of a lifetime, an interview Edward VIII, in which the abdicated British king’s pro-Nazi sympathies were obvious. At a time when Britain needed all its resolve to oppose Hitler, he chose not to publish it.

In journalism, integrity often lies in knowing when to kill a story for a greater good. I doubt I’ll ever have a hot news tip, but if I do, it’s not going to Drudge.

–Michael W. Perry, editor of The School of Journalism by Joseph Pulitzer.

2. Becky - 3/2/08

Drudge is not a journalist.

3. Steve Boriss - 3/3/08

Michael, That’s admirable, and I agree that there are stories that ought to be withheld to protect individual’s natural rights (incuding life) and nations that respect them. Regretably, I have yet to find an agreed-to ethical code among American journalists that asserts such guidelines. All we ever seem to hear about is the mythical “public’s right to know,” which means reporters’ right to publish anything they want, a guideline which allows publication of information helpful to terrorists.

4. reuben - 3/3/08

Michael W. Perry

Your comment illustrates precisely the arrogance and myopia of Old Media. Why? Because you unabashedly, and apparently without any sense of irony, claim that “news” is what only you consider to be of value. Apparently you esteem yourself the sole arbiter of what shall be known. Apparently you have a Christ like intuition of what constitutes the greater good.

Now if you are simply suggesting that damaging secrets should not be revealed during war (ala NYT) then we agree. Surely you would condemn the NYT for outing our financial and technological leverage because you are a moral and military genius so my primary remaining objection is simply that you claim beneficial information SHOULD be censored.

For example, on what do you base your judgement that British troops are in more danger because of Drudge? You took a few classes on terrorism and psy-ops at West Point while you were editing your book I presume?

Has it occured to you that Prince Harry voluntarily placing himself in harms way is a timely example of selfless patriotism (morale booster) so desparately needed (long overdue) from the ranks of the young, famous and privileged. Your lack of confidence in our soldiers and our cause is breath-taking. Has it escaped your attention that British troops are already in danger?

Now I understand (at least in theory) why some may think misguided tactics in the war on terror may place both soldiers and civilians in greater danger, but to suggest that combat troops — actually IN COMBAT — are in greater danger because one of our noble volunteers provoked the enemy — BY VOLUNTEERING — simply staggers the imagination. When he returns they should oust his snivelling, mosque-attending dauphin of a father and place Harry in line to be King

As for the story about Edward…If its all the same to you I would rather know which of our foreign allies are actually collaborating with the enemy. Indeed Britain needed the resolve to defeat the Nazis. But it always helps to know trivial details, such as — let me seeeee — oh yes: Which of our leaders support our sociopathic genocidal enemies (no less than a potential King and his minyans in this case)…Yes it always helps to know if your rulers are traitors. Call me crazy!

Of course today our leaders are openly treasonous (something which continually goes unnoticed by our cracker-jack investigative patriots in the media) but that is another story.

So are you suggesting that rooting out treason would have negatively affected British resolve? It seems to me any nation at war would want to obstruct highly placed enemies within. Maybe if people had known how badly our resolve had deteriorated by the mid 1930’s they might have been able to determine how grave the fascist threat actually was and it could have been smothered pre-emptively and Edward properly humiliated and executed in Picadilly Square. Just maybe.

Now you might be right and I might be wrong. But I can tell you this much: I would never be so bloated with contempt for the public that I would actually declare what I would or would not publish during a time of war (if I were in a position to censor) before the war even started.

By the way, if you are so concerned that our troops may provoke the enemy by being patriotic (based presumably on that old leftist saw that we provoke terror by bravely resisting it) or if you are so concerned that treasonous scum should be protected for the sake of morale, I am curious about what you have to say regarding the NYT having published the DOD battle plans two weeks before the war started? And I will not even stoop to mention the repeated flunky-treachery of that remnant of a fluff and bird-cage liner founded by your beloved “Progressive” Joseph Pulitzer.

In summation let me see if I understand you correctly: You would have shilled for the treasonous royal vermin who wanted to destroy western civilization (Edward) then…and you would censor (or refuse to celebrate) the brave young British royal who is trying to preserve it now.

If only more celebrities by birth or skill volunteered openly and bravely — like they did in all previous American wars… The bravery of the British Prince should serve as an exemplar to all western youth!

I have never left a negative comment on a blog before but I am finally compelled: You strike me as embodying the very quintessence of hypocrisy, truculence, ennui and just plain good old fashioned rank stupidity of a typical Old Media dinosaur.

5. Steve Boriss - 3/3/08

Becky, Not being facetious here, but tell me — what is a “journalist?” The field has never been codified into a profession with the hallmarks one would expect to see — things like licenses, agreed-to courses of study, agreed-to ethical codes, requirements for continuing education, and a body of knowledge that represents best practices. There are not even agreed-to practices for the “discipline of verification” that Tom Rosenstiel claims is at the core of the field.

6. Tyler Brûlé und der Scheingegensatz von Blogs und Zeitungen at viralmythen - 3/3/08

[…] dort auf UnRegelmäßigkeiten gestoßen ist, oder den “Journalisten 2.0″ Matt Drudge. Dieses (seltene) Beispiel für investigativen Blogjournalismus wurde mit dem George-Polk-Preis […]

7. Don - 3/3/08

Students of journalism may enjoy learning about Drudge’s early years as captured by FReeper Richard Poe in his book Hillary’s Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists.

As Drudge tells it, his obsession with news dates from childhood. As a paperboy for the Washington Star in Tacoma Park, Maryland, Drudge used to run late every day with his deliveries, because he would pull his cart over to the nearest park bench and read the paper from beginning to end. “On the bench, 1 would play editor,” he later wrote. “I noticed how their lead story was not really the lead story. How the hottest news was buried on the inside pages and the best reporting was riding at the end of the copy when it should have been at the beginning. I’d rewrite my own headlines for an audience of one.” The only child of divorced parents, Drudge withdrew into a private world where the background hum of electronic media often substituted for human company. “Talk radio rucked me in at night and the police scanner was my unconditional best friend,” he recalls. “We remain pals to this day.” THE DRUDGE FACTOR Drudge remembers walking the streets of Washington DC as a teenager. His feet often took him to the Washington Post building at 15th Street. “I’d look longingly, knowing I’d never get in,” writes Drudge. “Didn’t attend the right schools….My father was not the son of a famous drunken Southern senator, nor was I even remotely connected to a powerful publishing dynasty,” Instead, Drudge took a job as a store clerk at a local 7-Eleven right out of high school. “Every morning at about 2 o’clock the bulldog editions of all the major papers would be dropped off right at my doorstep. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. While the rest of the city slept, I’d read fresh headlines and bylines-first, before anyone else. The predawn customers would get an earful. I was never sure I cared about being first, but boy did I feel connected when I was.” In 1988; at age twenty-one, Drudge moved to Los Angeles. He became manager of the CBS Studios gift shop–a job he would hold for the next seven years. A natural newsman without a newspaper, Drudge resorted to compulsive snooping. He eavesdropped in the executive suites and hung around the newsroom. Then he discovered the trash bins in the copy room on the ground floor at Television City, filled each morning with overnight Nielsen ratings, box office returns, and memos on their way to the shredder. Suddenly, Drudge had access to real news. But how would he release it? Right around that time, Drudge’s father, worried that his son was on a career track to nowhere, bought him a 486 Packard Bell computer. “I found a way to post items on Internet newsgroups, things I had gleaned direct from the soundstages, the halls and the stalls,” recalls Drudge. “I collected a few e-mail addresses. I set up a list.” The Drudge Report launched officially in the winter of 1994. Says Drudge, “One reader turned into five. Five into a hundred … a thousand, five thousand, a hundred thousand.”

Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart remind me of my own former obsession with using feeds like ClariNet to get “pure” unedited wire stories.

THE NON-CONFORMIST Over the years, Breitbart explains, “I sort of insinuated myself into the Drudge Report. I became the most aggressive stringer that he had.”

In a weird way, we were interested in the same things. There were very few people out there like us who were trying to find raw reservoirs of information, trying to find the best AP wire, the best UPI wire, the best Agence France-Presse wire, what time stuff breaks, and when and where and how to stay on top of the world, paying attention to weather patterns around the world, paying attention to earthquake charts and maps. I just sort of mimicked what I saw Drudge was doing and I said I’m going to try and find stuff that helps move the site forward.

8. reuben - 3/3/08

Tyler Brule’

I am not being facetious but it would help if you could post in english


9. Brian Cubbison - 3/3/08

Of course, Matt Drudge makes The New York Times’ McCain story look like a church bulletin. The Times won’t succeed by trying to outdo Drudge, or even by moving in that direction.

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