New media? Everything new is old again

Howard Kurtz: Out with the new, in with the old (AP)

Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz shocked his colleagues and even his critics this week when he announced he was leaving the Post after 29 years to join The Daily Beast, a web-only news site run by Tina Brown.

Kurtz is just the latest high-profile “mainstream” media journalist to abandon a “traditional” news outlet for one of the upstart web-based operations. Others include Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Peter Goodman of the New York Times. Both moved over to The Huffington Post.

With so many mainstream journalists making the switch it’s getting harder and harder to tell the new media from the old.

The Huffington Post, which started as a blog of the tart-tongued Ariana Huffington and some of her celebrity friends, is now a full-bore, venture-capital fueled operation run out of a SoHo lost with dozens of staffers and a round-the-clock news operation.

Politico, one of the new kids on the block, is backed by Albritton media empire money and has lured a number of high-profile writers from their old gigs writing for newspapers and broadcast outlets.

In Chicago recently, the “Journalism That Matters” project, run by former Associated Press staffer Bill Densmore, explored business models for local news sites and blogs.

Like everything else in modern society, money and commercialism have taken over. The freewheeling days of the Internet died long ago and corporate interests control much of what your read, see or hear.

For 16 of my years writing for newspapers, I was lucky enough to work for two independent, family-owned publications: The Roanoke Times in my home state of Virginia and The Telegraph in the Mississippi River city of Alton, Illinois.

Of the two, The Telegraph was the feisty pain in the butt of the status quo. We took no prisoners and went after everyone, costing an Illinois Supreme Court justice his job along with other politicians.

But The Telegraph today is owned by Freedom Newspapers and is just another clog in a giant media machine. The Roanoke Times is part of the Landmark chain. Even the small weekly newspaper that I write and shoot photographs for during my retirement is owned by Media General.

When you look at readership of news on the web, the numbers still go to media giants like The Washington Post and the New York Times.

In the early days of web-based journalism, giddy writers for new media predicted that the Internet would “liberate” journalism.  It didn’t. New media was simply being taken over by old media.

Even “social media” sites like Facebook and Twitter are now dominated by corporate media. Writers for mainstream newspapers and broadcast outlets churn out blogs that are controlled by editors and the rules and restrictions of lawyers.

When Peter Goodman left The New York Times for The Daily Beast he said he was tired of “laundering” his writing through “think tanks and lawyers”  but the Beast is owned by InterActive Corp. (IAC), an international conglomerate that controls more than 50 Internet sites. The boss at IAC is Barry Diller, former boss at Paramount and Fox Broadcasting.

How much freedom will Goodman have at IAC? As much as the accountants, lawyers and risk-assessment analysts allow.

In the end, “new media” is just repackaged “old media.”

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7 Responses to "New media? Everything new is old again"

  1. Carl Nemo  October 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks Doug for your thoughts on the media and where its headed; ie, nowhere. What would be refreshing is a mainstream media outlet that “took no prisoners” and went after the rascals similar to your description of “The Telegraph” in past times, but on a national basis.

    It seems there was far more activism on the part of citizens back in the halcyon days of newsprint possibly ending with the onslaught of web-based media. In this age of blogs and web-based news we are inundated on a daily basis concerning ongoing scandals, but its either caused a case-hardening effect on the electorate or the massive dispensation of antidepressants have kicked in bigtime. It’s been reported that as many as 80 million Americans are on such meds.

    We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in sight. Our government is still shoving uber expensive, bum legislation down our collective throats while continuing to spend tax debtor money like there’s no limit as to how much can be borrowed. We’re now in a “death spiral” to financial oblivion and no one at the top seems to give a damn about this impending disaster. I guess it’s a case of “Titanic” redux.

    It’s hard to pin down, but there’s something rotten in Denmark concerning this modern age reporting of the ‘news’ paradigm along with its seeming minimal impact on fomenting positive change for our citizens. / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. DejaVuAllOver  October 7, 2010 at 2:17 am

    “Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.” —– Pete Townsend . That is to say, the zionists, in both cases At , least as far as this old ex-media-whipping-boy is concerned.

  3. Almandine  October 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Sometimes you get a little reality in spite of it all:

    http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/bernanke-tells-truth-united-states-is.html

    • Carl Nemo  October 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      An interesting read Almandine, but Bernanke is not simply part of the problem, but the root cause of our problems with his support of TARP and his hair-brained financial ‘rescue’ infamously known as Quantitative Easing I, a failed experiment, and now possibly QE 2?. He’s a running dog for shadowy banking and investment oligarchs both domestic and of foreign persuasion; ie, the Rothschilds of Europe.

      The guy is basically a legally enfranchised “counterfeiter” via the unholy Fed~U.S. Treasury axis in that he honestly believes that running the printing presses willy nilly 24/7 while handing out huge amounts of money to undeserving bankers and also buying up their bad assets with no strings attached will have somehow turned our national financial crisis about. It has also branched out into shoring up sorry corporate butts in the automotive sector and they are still in trouble. The same greedy mattoids on the bridge of the USS America are running the show and he now whines about lack of fiscal discipline?! Rest ssured “they” are all in this together and they do have a ‘plan’ for us and it’s not good either.

      We’re headed “blood in the streets”, martial law and a currency reissued in the form script; ie., coupons or better yet a digital card similar to the administration of food stamps in many jurisdictions. Everyon’e life savings will implode to zero while they reissue another “funny money” (digital) scheme saying things will be better next time, citizens being squared away maybe ten cents on the dollar or less…NOT!

      Gold and silver values will become a moonshot, but no doubt they’ll claim the dealing in such a “barbaric relic” will be illegal, forcing it underground to the realm of black markets and the unsavory characters that deal there. They want all lowly citizens of ‘common birth’ to be equally miserable in their future oligarchical collective, known as “Plantation Planet” : |

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Almandine  October 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

        Morning Carl…

        Up to your usual analysis, I see and agree. My point though was to highlight an alternative media site, of which I find very many. In fact, it’s not hard at all to find facts, analysis, and opinion of greater diversity than the MSM ever had. Content validity will be argued by some as the downfall of many of those, but caveat emptor always applies anyway, especially with the MSM. Talk about agendas!

        However, I agree with Doug that some of the new media will employ the old news folks, but I agree with Woody that it’s because the old print / TV media are becoming has beens and those folks need somewhere to go. Much of what I see on the Internet on – say – Monday, shows up on my local network station about Wednesday. AND, they call it news!

  4. woody188  October 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    In this Doug, you are wrong. The reason?

    Cost. Pure and simple. Used to be you needed writers, editors, press room, printing press, paper, delivery people, and so on. Now you need $5 per month or less and time to write to get started. The barrier to entry is so low, any nutcase can start an online media empire. HuffingtonPost proves my point. :)

    So now the rich and poor compete over your attention, where before the rich competed only with the rich. And the return of citizen journalism has only just begun. As more have seen the lies and half truths of the corporate media, more have turned to the Internet as their source of information instead of the broadcast media. And if we ever overcome the digital divide, broadcast media is toast.

    The writing is on the wall, hence the rats leaving those sinking ships of print media. Newspapers will crumble along with magazines, then TV, and eventually radio as everything is moved into the cloud.

    This is a good thing. It isn’t old media taking over, merely finally understanding the game and coming in a decade late. WaPo and NYT will always be players, but look at yourself and HuffingtonPost. Couldn’t even compete with those media empires two decades ago.

    Report truthfully and don’t sell out to corporate demands. Hold the liars feet to the fire and make the comfortable, uncomfortable. Be a journalist, not a propagandist. That’s all it takes.

  5. Warren  October 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    With due respect to both Carl and Woody.

    The internet and small, independent sites (like this one) are our last and best hope for any real, uncensored news.

    Carl, I agree with your sentiments as far as it goes. That is, the ‘new media’ outlets that are simply a repackaging of the ‘old media’ are worthless. I have them in my browser’s favorites in a folder called ‘Propaganda’.

    Woody, I agree with your sentiments. Those new outlets do exist. They’re not well publicized, and by the time they are well publicized they’ve been take over by TPTB and are worthless. But they exist, and one has to go look for them. There is a whole lot of first-hand knowledge, interviews, and important news that doesn’t get reported in either the old print media or the new corporate media. True, some of it has to be taken with a grain of salt as some of it is not well second-sourced. But it is valuable none the less for painting a general picture.

    Look for those good but as-yet undiscovered and uncorrupted sites. They’re out there. Kinda like this one.

    —W—

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