Sign of the Times

20 Mar

When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about… And if that’s the trend, God save us from ourselves.

Nicholas Kristof  in today’s NYT

Question: Do you think he’s right? 

2 Responses to “Sign of the Times”

  1. rpak March 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    Who then should be our gatekeeper? The NYT? Sure, it is the paper of record and does a pretty good job, but as the complete neglect of the Freeman case goes or the craptastic Bill Kristol shows, sometimes the NYT totally bites. I mean this is the gatekeeper paper that deliberately decided not to cover the Holocaust as it was happening (yes, I did go there)

    I’m sure that for some, web exclusive news and information reading has limited their exposure to information due to self selection, but I’m dubious about generalizing this claim. If it weren’t for blogs like Sullivan’s who link to so much other opinions and other Atlantic blogs, I would never have read so much conservative and libertarian opinion. If it weren’t for the web I would never know how intellectually dishonest someone like Kristol is or even fact check a debate.

    However, there is something to be said for the hard copy of the paper. Browsing the paper certainly allows me to read more broadly, even if I just skim through the paper and read only headlines and a few first lines. In 30 minutes I can get a pretty good sense of what is in the NYT. But that’s just it, I get a good sense of what the NYT tells me is going on in the world (which is not that reliable). I’ve found that I can get the same broad view of current events by listening to Public Radio. And the thing Public Radio has going for it is that you get much much better local news report.

  2. thepotluckpair March 22, 2009 at 9:22 pm #

    Ouch. Critiquing the Grey Lady? You just had to go there. Seriously though, I’m not one to mourn the fall of newspapers as they are currently constituted. From a journalistic point of view the insular nature of the msm and the repetitive, sensational quality of cable news leaves much to be desired where the desemination of truth is concerned. The rise of web media is welcome relief in this respect, because it has unleashed many new voices and sorely needed perspectives to expand the national and global conversation on what is news.

    But on a sociological level, I have concerns. Filtering news is a necessary and universal function. There is no human way possible to discern the amount of information we are now exposed to on a daily basis unassisted. I’m curious who is best suited to play that role in the future. Could it be ideologically driven sites like Huffington Post or Drudge Report? I hope there is a better alternative because, despite my own biases, I realize we all desperately need to learn how to think and communicate across ideological lines, and are losing the ability or desire to do so. You’re right that at least the NYT and similar papers, by offering a comprehensive range of news articles, have given us a launching point for shared conversation.

    The other concern about web media is that they thrive off attribution, not substantiation. It’s easy to post a link to the source of your information, but its difficult to assess the accuracy of sources. And because most bloggers don’t have the time, access and skill to do their own reporting, the web is still dependent upon the msm to be their newsroom. In a post newspaper world, who will provide for these foundational news services?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: