Ok, ok, I concede! I have gotten several emails and even comments to my blog post about Stewart vs. Cramer showing me the errors in my ways.
Let me see if I can count the ways that I was wrong. First, it was Stewart vs. CNBC (and business journalism in general) and not Stewart vs. Cramer. Second, Cramer and CNBC were losers. However, on a third point, I am or more may not be wrong. Perhaps Cramer and CNBC have a wake up call (like this viral petition to “Fix CNBC” going around) to make a change. But after being wrong on the first two points, I might be willing to entertain the idea that Cramer/CNBC/etc cannot turn save their ailing enterprises.
In a past post, I asked “Can you crowdsource Watergate?” Well, Yochai Benkler lays out the case in this provocative commentary that crowdsoucing can indeed speak truth to power. I agree with him on several points: newspapers are in rapid decline; non-profits, remaining newspapers and new players like bloggers can help fill the gap somewhat; that the NYT’s credibility was used by the Bush administration to bolster its Iraq war claims rather than used to speak truth to power by the Bush administration.
However, I think that Benkler is not entirely correct. These forces will surely mitigate the decline of newspapers, but something real will be lost. These new players, like the blogs, are increasingly fragmented. With the decline of newspapers, I think it will be harder to make related advocacy groups struggle with areas of conflict.
Here is a personal example of mine. We created a GOTV campaign in 2000 called “RegisterToVoteOrNot.com.” The NYT covered our campaign–on page A1. (As a side note, think about the relative prominence of an above-the-fold NYT article versus a story on the homepage of NYTimes.com.) The spin? “As Public Records Go Online, Some Say They’re Too Public.” Whereas we were advocating civic participation, they forced us to address privacy concerns. In a world where privacy advocates have their own blogs and newsletters and civic participation advocates have a different set of media, it would have been hard to come to the reasonable compromise that we ended up with.
And of course, there are many such conflicts including ones of much greater import than ours. I think that these tussles are of central importance to a functioning democracy, and they may be diminished as newspapers decline.
1. technology, 2. politics
Well, it’s actually a tongue-in-cheek prediction because in 1981 it took 2 hours at $5/hr to download the entire paper (minus the pictures, ads and comics). Another interesting tidbit: they estimate that between 2,000-3,000 people in Bay Area have computers in 1981.
via Nat via techcrunch. Enjoy!
1. technology, 3. et cetera