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Google replacing mainstream media with bloggers? 8/21/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Multitude of voices.
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The Motley Fool reports that Google is sponsoring a headquarters for about 500 bloggers at the Democratic convention, and will do the same for the Republican convention. This is about the opposite of the traditional news model, in which a proprietary outlet pays for the facilities and the reporters, and controls the content.

For a long time, this blog has been predicting that news in America would transform — moving from a monolithic, establishment point-of-view to a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. Google’s news room may be a step toward fulfilling that prophesy.

Washington matters. Or, it doesn’t. Welcome to the future of news. 5/21/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Multitude of voices.
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I’m going to turn over the next two paragraphs to two highly respected thinkers in the news industry. First, here is Washington Post political correspondent Daniel Balz, speaking at Columbia University. “This election reminds us of something that has too often been ignored: That Washington matters. That government matters. Most of all, that who wins the White House matters. As we have seen over the past eight years, the choice of a president affects the way America projects its power around the world and how the world sees us. It affects who gets health care and at what price. It affects who gets taxed and at what rates. It affects the distribution of wealth in a society where income inequality continues to grow. It affects how we educate children and how we care for older Americans. It affects what this nation does to combat global climate change and therefore the world your children and your grandchildren will inherit.”

Now, here is Carolina Journal’s Jon Ham. “Look at the front page of almost any daily newspaper in any town in America. What do you see? Invariably there will be a story or two about some victim group or person who is being helped by a government program or by a non-profit, often using government funds… Editors seem to think this activity is the essence of American life. Except for the advertising, a newspaper reader from another planet would never know there was a private sector…Unfortunately for newspapers, most people have nothing to do with the welfare state and its many mechanisms, except for funding it with their tax dollars. The private sector is where they live. They go to work, raise their kids, pay their taxes and don’t ask anything from the government except for national defense, good schools, garbage pickup, water and sewer hookups and effective police protection.”

Both men make solid, legitimate arguments that are worthy of our respect. It is strangely easy to agree with both of them even though they represent views that are essentially polar opposites. And that’s exactly the point. News is not a science, but a social science. Truth is elusive. The issues our news covers are too complex to run through repeatable laboratory experiments, and will always be plagued with unknowns, unknowables, and peoples’ rights to express their own preferences. That’s why news is best served-up as a debate — a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. In fact, that’s what the founding fathers wanted it to be. The Internet will bring us voices who think government matters more, and others less. Plus a myriad of voices who think government is focused on the wrong things. What really matters is the American experiment, which succeeds when we respect them all.

Future open Presidential elections will be opposite of 2008: Democrats will be more fragmented than Republicans 1/21/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Multitude of voices.
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One of the most striking features of this election is how ideologically different the Republican candidates are from each other vs. the relative similarity of the Democratic candidates. In fact, the Democrats are so similar that the contest has focused almost exclusively on secondary issues like style, experience, gender, and race. This is not the natural order of things. There is a clearly defined standard against which conservatives measure their candidates — a strict reading of the Constitution — that limits Republicans’ ideological range. But, liberals feel less bound to these principles, with many believing we have a “living Constitution” that ought to change with the times. This allows for a multitude of Democratic candidates offering a number of diverse ideologies.

A new Pew study sheds light on why the Democratic candidates are so similar. Despite the fact that most Americans believe that the mainstream media are liberal, the media continue to insist they are simply presenting us with the truth (“the correct way to look at things,” according to Bernard Goldberg). Apparently, Democratic voters still believe them and share their ideological blindness. The graph below shows that Democratic voters place themselves about right smack in the middle of the ideological spectrum along with Clinton and Obama — candidates who hold the monolithic, media-supported liberal positions on issues such as abortion, death penalty, drilling in ANWR, guns, health care, immigration, school vouchers, and Social Security. With the collapse of Old Media, Democrats will receive less affirmation that these center-left-establishment positions are “right,” as in “correct.” And with the growth of New Media, they will be exposed to news sites that fit their personal views even better. And when that happens, “Democrat unity” will become an oxymoron, as well as an impossible goal for the Party’s leadership. (H/T: Christopher Cook)

America awakens from its drug-induced news snooze 8/7/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Multitude of voices.
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After decades of journalism and government-induced sedation, the vitality of our public discourse is coming alive again. The news has been not so much dumbed-down as numbed-down by a journalism culture that has embraced objectivity over passion, government power over self-reliance, and collaboration over competition. But even that did not make our news sufficiently dull and non-controversial for the tastes of the government, which further tranquilized the news by granting themselves the power to revoke licenses from broadcasters who failed to live-up to vague and arbitrary guidelines for airing “responsible” programming and achieving “fairness.” Ultimately, the news media became so disoriented that they could not even recognize their own uniform left-of-centerness.

But when the government’s defenses were down, relatively unregulated talk radio and cable TV penetrated the media bubble, invading the body politic with alien ideas. The first sign that feeling is returning has been an attention-starved Right itching for a fight to prove to themselves and everyone else that they are still alive, and just as anxious to get into arguments as their cousins on the other side of the Pond, per the video below.

Next, there will be prickly sensations from throughout the ideological spectrum from the far left to the far right as a multitude of voices warm-up for their new opportunities to be heard. When the news fully awakens and comes into equilibrium, with all its component constituents alive and kicking, the patient we know as America will be much healthier for it.