Thursday, April 12, 2007

Then along comes a woman...

Has the bloggersphere affected the mainstream news machine? I'm pretty sure it has, but if you're not, just ask Dan Rather. Or Brian Williams.

Andrew Sullivan asks:
How Self-Important Is Brian Williams?

Gob-smackingly so, of late. Pious doesn't quite capture the guy's preening vacuousness. Dean Barnett has just dug up the latest gem by Williams about the blogosphere:

"You're going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I'm up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn't left the efficiency apartment in two years."

Brian, respectfully, I suggest you learn to deal. Just as the RIAA and the record industry have been challenged by downloading and bands selling songs on MySpace, the mainstream media, Op-Ed pages, and pundits have been challenged by bloggers. And just as newspapers and TV news departments have teams, so do blogs.

CD is the nom de blog of a contributer to one of the first major group blogs, CorrenteWire , and one of the smartest people I know. (Full disclosure: I also blog there).

She moved to DC last fall, and just like the competent journalist she is, has arranged an interview with Helen Thomas, the grand dame of the White House Press Corps. Read it at CorrenteWire :

Sometimes it’s hard not to quail before your betters, and I just had that experience, in the best of ways. Helen Thomas agreed to speak with me about the war, the Bush administration, and life in the Beltway, and I am honored and flattered as a Little Blogger to have had this opportunity.

Helen’s impressive bio can be found here. She’s got long experience with Republican administrations, and earned her credentials as a feminist icon as the only woman member of the press corps to travel with Nixon to China. She written several books, which you can learn more about here.

Ms. Thomas had two words to answer my question, ‘what is the biggest problem facing good government today?’ “Lousy leadership.” The follow up question about what is different today compared to when she first entered the business was hardly more reassuring. Back then, and unlike today, people understood the true meaning of public service, and followed in the tradition of Lincoln. People in previous governments have wanted to “make a contribution” and help “the sick, the poor, those without shelter” and had concern for issues like fairness and health care. She stressed that this isn’t found in the Beltway today, and she blames much of our current situation on Reagan, “when all this began.”

Cub that I am, I couldn’t help ask this giant for a little advice. I wanted to know how citizen journalists and bloggers could gain more access to the politicians and newsmakers we write about on the blogosphere. She said, “Keep plugging away. You have more access than you think,” and implied we’re more powerful than is generally admitted. She also encouraged us to “spread the word” about the blogosphere, which I take to mean to our friends and neighbors who still rely on the mainstream press.

So, the bloggers are starting to matter, for good and for bad. In response to the Powerlines and LittleGreenFootballs (no links, they get enough traffic), right-wing GWBush sycophants each, we have people like CD at CorrenteWire doing actual, you know, journalism. With interviews and quotes and everything.

Oh, and Brian? Keep doing your job well, and you'll continue to earn our respect. But whine about the changing internet paradigm, and you'll be as stale as last night's left-overs.

By the way: Lambert Strether, the MaƮtre d' at CorrenteWire, has this to say about Brian's pout:
Yep. Part time job, no pay, 4 hours a day, 4 years, non-stop, build and administer a site, pay $170 a month for the dedicated server to handle the user spikes, deal with the trolls and the spam. Man, that's efficiency. Those--and my posts and readers--are my credentials, and if with your salary and connections you're worried about competing with me, you're even weaker than I thought. And just think: In all my four years, I didn't even cheerlead the country into the greatest strategic disaster in American history! Not once.