Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Metafilters to the Media Elite's Filters

Christopher Smith on the true voices-in-the-wilderness contra a media elite in decline:
The Daily Show succeeds because it is the only show on which views from outside the sphere of legitimate debate can be aired and find an audience. It’s comedic basis disarms the critics.

The people who regularly watch The Daily Show treat it as an end of the day metafilter for the news coverage they just consumed. Whether the views aired on The Daily Show are about shoddy financial reporting, corporate media complicity in governmental shenanigans or lazy journalism; the show serves as a cultural touchstone for people who know the whole media spectacle is a sham. Stewart has the only show on which there is even a mild analysis of those who deign to keep the “news” centrally controlled ....

The Stewart/Cramer discussion, as ancillary as it might seem to the greater crisis, was one of the first mainstream cracks in that veneer of always having the media define the boundaries of the argument.

Blogs and new media have been eating away at that veneer for quite some time and that’s why newspapers are suffering. Their inability to recognize the critical flaw in their coverage when the people are starting to demand more. Sure, they are having trouble with costs, scale and declining revenue, but the problem with their content precedes all of those things.
Blogs and new media have been corrosive on the media's pretense because they rushed in to fill vacuums left by media practice regarding critical questions, the local impact of politics, where money comes and goes, etc. Smith's critique is spot on, but I would add the caveat that social media did not necessarily set out with an eye to eroding the mainstream media's influence. They start out pragmatically to address problems that mainstreamers ignore. In my case, when the problems are pushed to the foreground and the mainsteamers continue to ignore them, then I begin to have an interest in throwing off the filters of the media gatekeepers.

HT:  Jay Rosen

1 comment:

  1. I agree that Stewart and Colbert are "cultural touchstones for people who know the media spectacle is a sham" -- this is precisely why Fox News' version of the TDS was such a failure. You can't do a conservative version of TDS because it's not really about liberal or conservative, it's about inside the establishment vs outside the establishment. If you're inside the establishment, helping craft establishment messages, and a part of the establishment's strategy, you can't be very successful as a critic.

    I pointed out on my blog last week that Stewart and Colbert have pretty been the only voices of media criticism these past few yaers... In 2004 Jon Stewart told Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to "stop hurting America." Their show was cancelled not long after. In 2006 Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondent's Assn. dinner was a watershed moment in media criticism -- because his message stung, and it was targeted as much at the beltway media elites in the room as President Bush himself.

    Cramer v Stewart was the third body blow to the media establishment, and yet I still don't think they get it. They don't understand that there's a new dynamic in town. They need to work for US, the American reader/viewer. Not the corporate behemoth who owns their network or printing press.

    OT the capcha word is "bacosine" -- bacon and visine?