Thursday, July 22, 2004

People Needing People

This may very well be the future of journalism. Lileks made the comment that the newspaper increasingly looks more like a group blog to him, a blog however which is not honest or explicit about its biases. Why do we need reporters anyway? The whole concept of journalism as a profession (i.e., fancy trade union) is highly questionable. Everybody knows that whenever they've seen a story in the newspaper, a story about which they had specific personal knowledge, the newspaper got it wrong. Screwed up the facts, screwed up the names, etc. Yet when we read what the newspaper has to tell us about things far away we tend to believe it as though it had just come down directly from Mt. Sinai. This strange phenomenon of human gullibility even has a name, Gell-Mann's Amnesia Effect. Why then do we need a bunch of professional experts who have no on-the-ground knowledge of events telling us what is happening? Their pretence at objectivity has long ago faded away for all who pay attention. As but one example, witness the way the New York Times chose to spin the Berger mess from a potentially lethal felonious breaking of the law on a scale worse than Watergate to simply some political posturing done by the Bush administration. Pravda on the Hudson. Who needs it? Why don't we have soldiers on the ground and Iraqis reporting on Iraq, Kansans on Kansas, Bostonians on Boston? Why not let the people report the news they know about?


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