Saturday, February 12, 2005

Eason Jordan Resignation - A Warning Delivered, but to Who?

Eason Jordan down. Who's next?

Writing at Darn Floor, Drew worries about bloggers thinking along those lines:

The Eason Jordan incident should not be a time to celebrate the power of blogs over the dreaded "MSM" -- there shouldn't be any question about that now -- it should a time for sober reflection on what blogs have done and what blogs can do.

This time it was Eason Jordan. Next time it could be me. Or you.
Yes, Drew. But while respecting the power, don't divorce it from the question of justice. And I firmly believe justice was done here. And further, I believe the only reason justice was done in this case is because the blogosphere forced the issue.

While heeding your warning, let's not forget the alternative. And what is the alternative?

Via Will Collier at Vodkapundit, we find this comment from Steve Lovelady, the managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review's CJR Daily:

The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail. (Where is Jimmy Stewart when we need him ?) This convinces me more than ever that Eason Jordan is guilty of one thing, and one thing only -- caring for the reporters he sent into battle, and haunted by the fact that not all of them came back. Like Gulliver, he was consumed by Lilliputians.
That is what the old media types thought about this story. They were NEVER going to tell us that one of the most influential media voices in the world casually slandered the American military (and NOT only one time let's recall) to an increasingly anti-American foreign audience. It wasn't even news to them. Yet enough of the public considered it so scandalous that Jordan himself (or perhaps one or more of his superiors) recognized he needed to step down once the word got out.

Look, others will devote a lot of bloggage to the Eason Jordan story specifically, so let me pull back and address some related things that are beginning to take shape in this new media age that the Jordan story illustrated, but didn't create.

This is bigger than blogs. It's about a much more distributed network for getting at information.

I'm not a journalist, nor do I call myself one. But occasionally I find myself filling a gap where no journalist thought there was a need.

Some personal examples over just the past 48 hours:

I live-blogged the Hugh Hewiit - Peter Beinart debate this week. No one reading my account will confuse it for serious journalism. But know what? There was no journalist who decided to cover it. Was there an interest? According to the four thousand people who went to that post over the course of the next 24 hours there was. For comparison, my previous best traffic day ever was around four hundred visitors.

Not close enough to real journalism for you? I can accept that. So let's look at a couple of posts I made over the past day at the (soon to be re-named) Dayton v. Kennedy blog.

Last night Congressman John Kline, a very big fish in Minnesota Republican politics, announced on the Hugh Hewitt radio program that he was not going to seek the Republican nomination for Senate in 2006. He further stated that he was endorsing Rep. Mark Kennedy's bid.

That's a serious story. And if you got your news by reading the Pioneer Press or Star Tribune this morning, you don't know about it yet. As of this moment, it hasn't even made it to their websites. Kline didn't make the statement in a medium the traditional media are used to covering to get breaking news. That may be due to the fact that the timing of such Kennedy endorsements seems to be a rather chaotic at the moment. Why?

Well in another post I made at Dayton v. Kennedy you can find the probable answer:

[Kennedy] also stated that Dayton's surprise announcement declining to seek re-election affected the timing of the announcement of his own intention to run, causing him to declare sooner than he had intended.
He stated it on a local talk-radio show. Again, if you get your news from traditional media sources, you don't know this yet.

I don't bring these examples up to pat myself on the back (okay, maybe a little). All I did was report what I heard. I just happened to be listening in places the old media tend to ignore.

That's all Rony Abovitz did too, writing at Forumblog at the Davos conference, and suddenly one of the most powerful names in international journalism was forced to resign. It wasn't caused by pursuing a vendetta for its own sake. It was simply a matter of getting the word out. Only these days once the word is out, the public don't require a cadre of professional decision makers to dig deeper, and get at the truth of the matter.

Back to Drew's warning. It is true that it is easier for something scandalous to get out, destroying reputations and careers at staggering speed in this new age. But the media have been in that same business for ages. Since Watergate, a heck of a lot of journalists consider that their primary mission.

What I consider the more important lesson - and perhaps more important warning - is the removal of that power from the hands of a small elite, increasingly at odds with their fellow citizens' interests, and placing into the hands of everyone. Yes, such democratization carries danger. But in my opinion the alternative carries even more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Bogus, but you are a Journalist. Just ask Hugh Hewitt. I understand your concern but you bloggers are a very responsible group. Jordan lied and slandered the U.S. Military and the blogs simply followed up where MSM feared to tread. I am proud of all of you.

6:53 PM  

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