"There is a recent and refreshing openness to weblogs and citizens' media among the media big boys," reports Jeff Jarvis, fresh off an Aspen Institute forum on journalism and society "with lots of media machers." Jeff enjoys the privileged perspective of a blogger who also works for major media. He wears, as he puts it, "two Spandex suits these days: Media Man and Blog Boy":
Well, it's more than that. It's fear. I gave a spiel on technology and the newsroom -- about more than just weblogs, but it turned into a discussion of just weblogs -- and at our closing session, half the participants said they were awakened about blogs and even frightened of being left behind in this blog thing. In previous sessions like this, I've heard half the big media guys dis and dismiss blogs, but there was none of that here, none of it. The curiousity about blogs ranged from cautious to cordial to rabid. These big media guys (not unlike the mullahs of Iran) realize that blogs are here to stay.
At the same time, the news business recognizes that -- in the argot of the age -- it has issues: Jason Blair lied. Circulation directors have been lying. Circulation is declining. Readers are complaining. The index of trust in the news business is doing about as well as Martha Stewart's stress level.
Said one important person there as I nodded myself into a case of whiplash: "What we define as 'quality journalism' is what our peers define as quality journalism . . . We keep trying to give our readers what we call quality journalism, and our readers call it crap."
And speaking of what "readers call crap," Donald Luskin at The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid reports something we had heard out of the corner of our ear on "FOX & Friends" this morning:
The New York Times' coverage of former Clinton security chief Sandy Berger's taking of classified material didn't make the print edition today, we hear [We had thought ED Hill mentioned a brief item placed deep inside the paper -- either way, an apparent attempt to soft-pedal it]. A brief story on the Times' website based on an earlier AP report downplays it, saying, "Mr. Berger returned all of the documents and notes to the archives in October, within a week of his learning they were missing, his lawyers said."
Which is incorrect, of course. In an inversion of Winston Churchill's famous comparison of the speed of lies vs. truth,* the blogosphere had already promulgated and commented upon the information contained in the AP report yesterday afternoon and evening before the Times had had a chance to put its pants on, so to speak. The original AP story says the documents Berger "accidentally discarded" were "two or three copies of the highly classified Millennium terror report [and] included critical assessments about the Clinton administration's handling of the Millennium terror threats as well as identification of America's terror vulnerabilities at airports and sea ports."