Monday, April 03, 2006

Annexing 'Unclaimed Territory'

Added Unclaimed Territory to the blogroll (to your left).

a sample (via):
The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who - at least thus far - have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.


Daniel said...

I gotta say this, though it pains me: Bush would not be possible without an enormous infrastructure of distraction, infotainment and empty-calorie partisanship. It's not just the White House that is sick, or the political culture that allows the White House to be stolen -- twice. It's a culture that puts up with this abuse, even encourages it. It's a media that fails to even approximate its lofty principles.

I don't know what to believe anymore. I really don't. If the House doesn't change hands in the fall, I don't know where we will be what that means. The people want change. Where are we if the people want change and can't get it at the ballot box?

Anna said...

> I don't know where we will be [or] what that means. The people want change. Where are we if the people want change and can't get it at the ballot box?

no answers here. That one's too big for me to want to think about.

(which press bias is that, of the ones AC enumerates, that says "all's well in our government and things will be fine, just fine, nothing serious, move along..."?)
(here it is, #6: "Status Quo bias: The news media believe "the system works." During the "fiasco in Florida," recall that the news media were compelled to remind us that the Constitution was safe, the process was working, and all would be well....")
So if we're in dire straits constitutionally, it'll be underplayed in the media.


> distraction, infotainment and empty-calorie partisanship. It's not just the White House that is sick... It's a culture that puts up with this abuse, even encourages it.

Why is the culture like this, what forces have shaped and softened it into a marshmallow?

You've got better knowledge than me of what educational fare students are provided with these days, in jr. high and high school - _is_ civics still a requirement? It seems to me that we should be ensuring that our cultural 'immigrants' are fully aware of the history and principles of our government and how to get along as a society; if nobody bothers to teach them, they'll learn more primal ways in the gutter.

and over the airwaves


> It's a media that fails to even approximate its lofty principles.

So Daniel, you being a part of the media [folks, we are talking to a South Carolina Journalist of the Year here] and (it seems sometimes) one of the few parts that will give straight answers -

If you were to take a (city) newspaper, and compare its he-said-she-said (or "Authorities say") reality (of the whole - news AND editorial sections) with the Platonic ideal (of an Elements of Journalism -type paper, whose purpose is to inform the readers) -
and if you were to partition out the causes of the deviation between the reality and the ideal -
then among the following factors -

* time pressures
* need to keep on good terms with sources
* insufficient knowledge of the general subject
* not wanting to get whaled on by readers
* editor's influence
* permeability of the 'firewall'
* other publisher's influence
* owner's influence
* culture of "equality of outcomes" not "equality of standards"
(i.e. "balanced" coverage, not discipline of verification)
* [name the ones I missed, please]

what factors are most responsible?

(and correspondingly, if you had dollars to invest in improving coverage, where would you allocate them?)

BTW, did you see Brad Delong's recent side-by-side budget story comparison? Like night and day.

Daniel said...

now those are great questions, and all of them are beyond me. that said, they represent a good thought experiment.

Would legacy media underplay a constitutional crisis? A more provocative question might be, what would established editors require as evidence of a constitutional crisis? If the criticism comes only from outside the establishment (and is therefore either "shrill," "extreme" or "fringe") then whose firebell-in-the-night would get heard? In other words, can the facts be heard? Or is the only thing that matters who states the facts? Does it take a "respected" figure to "break with" the establishment before the crisis becomes real?

Do we still teach civics? Should we? I got social studies in public school, and here's the hard part: Much of it was pure bullshit. Now, what happens when we grow up and reality confronts us? Do we cling to our cherished fantasies about bullshit? Do we reject everything associated with the bullshit as equally tainted? Or do we recognize that bullshit is part of the human condition, but not the sum of who we are? Thing is, you can't teach that in public schools, because public schools are now, and have always been, political entities. Public schools serve a necesary normative and doctrinal function, which is why the fight over evolution occurs in public schools and not in advanced research. My question is: do you really want that system to "save" the Republic?

Anyway, this one is beyond me. But you know that saying about "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?" I think the country and the culture has to be ready for a revolution in thinking for any change to take place. Absent that desire, no reform effort will be successful. This is not defeatist, by the way: history is full of such moments and shifts.

about all those questions you raised... On this one I'll refer to Jake. "Follow the money." The tragedy of the media is the tragedy of the commons, the triumph of the corporate culture, the hegemony the beancounters, the Attack of Pizza Hut.

As an industry, editorial quality isn't our top priority. When it's discussed, it's discussed as a marketing value. Certainly this is a variable -- i'm making sweeping generalizations here -- but from my observations and my conversations, it's a general trend.

At one level, quality is something you choose. At Berkeley last week, a speaker told us that the difference between accepting 8 percent profit and requiring 20 percent profit is the difference between your current newsroom staffing (20 percent profit) and doubling that staffing (8 percent profit). I'm sure there are other factors, but you get the point.

Privately owned media can choose to accept lower profits (though few do). Corporate owned media cannot. It must serve shareholders first. And in the battle between shareholder, community and Republic, community and Republic will always lose. Always.

It's not just money. It's what we spend our time arguing about. If we spend our time fighting off advertising directors who want to put ads on 1A, year after year, we're not focusing our attention where it should be.

And then there's leadership. If the people at the top are promoting editorial talent based on how it fits into the corporate model, your real "serve the public and tell the truth" people aren't going to get the top jobs. The rough, quirky, hard-ass idealists aren't going to stick around. Conformity seeps down like sweet maple syrup.

In other words, all the questions you address can be answered, improved, etc., but none of it will matter until we do something about publicly held media.

I've been thinking about it a lot over the past week, and this is where I've come down: It's time to stop talking about changing media and start talking about changing media ownership. Nonprofit? Foundational? Public utility? Independent? Privately owned? Cooperative? All worth discussion.

But corporate owned? I don't see how that can ever produce a positive outcome.