Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mike Hendricks is an elitist journalist: Takes swipe at "lesser" forms of communication

There is so much in the news this morning to write about I was having a hard time figuring out where to focus. As a Republican, I love observing the ongoing hate between the moderates and conservative in Johnson County and there is plenty reported in today's KC Star. I think there will be time to get to that later.

Today, Mike Hendricks wrote a commentary in the paper about how newspaper people are better than radio people and bloggers under the guise of an article about outrageous adults involved in kid's sports programs.

See, Mike uses the article to make sure paper readers understand that getting their breaking news from blogs and talk radio is horribly unreliable. Newpaper people have always looked at their craft as a newpaper journalist as a more elevated form of writing, more serious if you will, more credible. Mike and others like him feel threatened by these "lesser" forms of communication. If softened over a Martini at lunchtime, Mike would probably tell you that he thinks the print media is actually the 4th branch of government.

Let me be clear, I don't dislike Mike and I regularly read his work. I think he is a fine writer and I usually find it interesting. I dislike and take issue with his attitude and elitism.

I'd like to correct a notion Mike Hendricks puts forth in his commentary. He asserts that most of us bloggers and most talk radio personalities view ourselves with Mike's most sacred of titles....journalist. Most of us don't. I consider myself to be an amateur writer. The times we live in remind me a little of the 1770's when the printing press allowed all manner of people to publish tracts for mass publication. Thoughtful little writings like The Federalist Papers were a result that greatly influenced the founding of our country and are still referred to by political philosophers today....and radio talk show hosts. It caused debate and made people think. Don't blogs serve the same purpose today? Of course we should all strive for accuracy......I could provide many links to journalists who have not only got it wrong but got it wrong on purpose, created stories and lied. This interesting site chronicles some of the better examples but many, many more are more subtle and go unchecked everyday. Mike, we no longer trust your institution as we once did. What newspapers mostly serve up is old, old news before it lands on my driveway and what you do serve up has a decidely liberal-elitist slant to it. In this election cycle the media is unabashedly for Obama unlike anything I've ever seen. Chris Matthews practically piddles down his leg when he talks of Obama. Trust me and don't worry, we know not everything written on the internet is true. It kills guys like Mike to know that they are losing their power to influence the way America thinks.

Mike mocks the bloggers that call themselves "citizen journalists".....he should be ashamed of himself. Aren't all journalists really just citizens? Newspaper journalist weren't elected to anything were they? Officials of some sort? Oh, I see perhaps an official member of the press??? Again, just elitists trying to elevate themselves to some point above the average man on the street. Would it have been covered in the paper at all if it hadn't hit the blogosphere and later talk radio? Does anyone else see the irony? Would you have revealed the name of the parent if it was a well known conservative republican running for office? See all of those press policy decisions are now things we can't trust you about anymore because your motives are regarded as suspect. By the way, bloggers have scooped the newspaper guys countless times on big stories in the last couple years. If you want a chance at knowing what is going on right now boot up your computer, if you want to read about what happened yesterday grab a paper.

Bloggers serve a purpose albeit a slightly different purpose than newspaper journalists. It is an increasingly important purpose and I know Mike Hendricks and his colleagues hate that. The purpose is redistributing the power of thought back to the people.

Okay, I can't is a simple example from the front page of the local section from the same page as Mike's commentary. Largest print headline top right: "Kline Camp Regrets Error: Request in name of ANTI-ABORTION group sparks questions for campaign" while just below it is "Nixon's plan would boost health care" and then the flip to the continuation of that story on B4 reads, "Nixon: Children's plan would be expanded". Hmmmmm......let's see "boosting health care" and a "children's plan" are powerful little phrases while the Star's hatred of Phill Kline (whose candicacy I criticized in an earlier blog) is clear by making his campaign manager's error a top story in bold print. To make the point perhaps the headline could have just as accurately read.... "Nixon's plan for $265 million tax increase: Insurance companies support idea" while the story on Kline might be more more worthy to be reported on the second or third page with a headline like, "Kline Camp works to correct mistake, apologizes". My point is that the paper has tremendous power in simply how and where they place a story without even getting into the ways facts are presented. Thankfully, that power is waining.

If some aspire to be electronic journalists I have no problem with it. Do your best to get it right. Some will have more credibility than others and it is pretty easy to tell. Most of us already know The Kansas City Star's lack of credibility.


Tony said...

Kickass graphic dude!!!

John said...

I wish I could have written my own defense so well. --Bottom Line Communications