Yon posts a meditation on the media

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
It is a thoughtful post and well worth your time. His posts are now being excerpted on the Fox News site and he ties this together with what he hopes will happen to media coverage of the war.

Huge amounts of blog-energy go into attacks on mainstream media war coverage that might be better spent ignoring the irritant and offering alternative sources, in view of how critical any and all media coverage is to shaping public opinion which in turn determines the outcome of this war. These skirmishes between mainstream and alternative media produce only friendly fire casualties, and neither side can claim a monopoly on accuracy and objectivity. While the reliability and/or agendas of many mainstream media sources are questionable, the blogworld is also often too eager to anoint anyone who’s not mainstream as a guru-of-something. If this were the art-world, it would be like anointing anyone with some skill at putting brush to canvas as the “new Rembrandt.”

But the dirty secret known to only a few is that many of these “new Rembrandts” are clever forgeries. Some bloggers who advertise themselves as war correspondents with numerous “embeds” in the war, with the implication that they’ve spent more time on the ground than their mainstream war correspondent counterparts, mostly have spent very little time here, especially in comparison to those mainstream war correspondents.

This week, journalists are all around this area—ABC, Fox, New York Times, Associated Press, The Telegraph, Stars & Stripes (DoD publication) and others, all flagships—but where are the bloggers? Prohibitive costs, very high risks, and an increasingly shrinking market for the work probably contribute to the poor showing. Will the blog-world still maintain the attack on coverage from the mainstream media? Instead of looking for mistakes in some coverage, the common cause might be better served by well-informed bloggers searching all sources for the reports that get it right and driving readers to those.

Read the whole thing, and, as always, enjoy the evocative photos that Yon has interspersed in the post. Oh, and you can find out where LTC Erik Kurilla has gone to.

I don't see any long term alternative to the MSM, who have the money and resources that bloggers seldom do. Yon is an exception, both in motivation and talent. I suspect that in the long run the best of the amateurs will be taken up by the media. Michael Yon and Bill Roggio are making that transition and perhaps Michael Totten will follow at some point. This is cause for celebration. We are all in this together, and at some point we have to make our peace with the MSM. Perhaps that is starting to happen.

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Barry Dauphin said...

Yon's piece is indeed thoughtful, and he has certainly earned respect. He writes with a great deal of knowledge, courage, and compassion for the soldiers.

I understand his view about the sniping in the blogosphere and the blog vs. MSM cage match. I believe some of this is and will continue to sort itself out. The blogosphere has become the free fact checkers for the MSM... if only they'd listen. The reason, in part, the vitriol rises is that too many in the MSM view the blogosphere with suspicion and do not generally benefit from the value added quality. The conflict is so strong (in part) because the MSM didn't co-opt the blogs in much of any way. I don't mean buying them out but actually benefiting from the numerous corrections put out on blogs.

There are few bloggers in Iraq, and those who brave it out there deserve a lot (MSM too). Yet, all one has to do is observe the recent coverage of the Libby trial to understand the value of particular bloggers for providing a great deal of fact checking and analysis, while too many in the MSM were drinking Koolaid. Frankly without the blogosphere, I think we would not be in Iraq any more. I believe we would have pulled out or would be now (at least there would be no surge).

Now that might sound over the top, but the level of communication about so many issues has never been higher. I don't know as much about Iraq as Michael Yon, but I know far more about the situation than if I were only stcuk with the local paper and network news. And if that was all we had, it would surely have had a substantial impact by presenting a very slanted view of coverage. This friction between blog and MSM gets tiresome at times. But by and large it is a healthy function of our democracy, and a greater percentage of our citizens are engaged in important national and international issues than ever.

terrye said...

Yon is exceptional and most bloggers will never be as good as he is.

I do agree that the MSM is here for the forseeable future and I also agree that there are frauds in the blogs just like anywhere else.

But the majority of people do not get their news from the blogs, to reach lots of people..you still need the news.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

My problem with the "MSM" is that it is so monolithic and centralized. Far from representing 300 million minds, it represents maybe 300 minds total. All of them living in Manhattan.

The greater danger is that the MSM gives the appearance of plurality, the appearance of multiple voices when the underlying reality is the opposite.

The blogs have been, for me at least, a diappointment. Even this one. It's very difficult for nonprofessionals who have jobs to maintain to produce anything of great value day after day. A few natural writers of great talent, such as Roger Simon or Catherine Johnson, are able to produce consistently, but for the most part there is very little that the "hive mind" can produce that can't be done better by orders of magnitude by the MSM.

The situation is paralleled in the web in general. The really successful web sites are not those done by little people but by commercial entities like Amazon or Google. Even Amazon has a hard time making a profit. But the situation regarding the MSM is particularly fraught with danger because they control our perceived reality and hence our minds. Now that they are almost entirely drawn from a class which believes that war itself is obsolete, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to muster the ability to defend ourselves.

chuck said...


I think blogs are more like a community center where I can drop by to hear what Terrye has to say, see who else has posted, wonder where Seneca is, etc., etc. I never expected to replace the media. I read somewhere that most blogs are about things like knitting, and that makes perfect sense to me.

gumshoe1 said...

"Now that they are almost entirely drawn from a class which believes that war itself is obsolete, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to muster the ability to defend ourselves."-MHA



i believe it was from wretchard at Belmont that i first heard the
phrase "non-kinetic warfare".

i'd like to lay that idea/image alongside your comment about
"a class which believes that war itself is obsolete".

just as war is "politics by other means"...or,looked at another way, an attempt to obtain power thru conflict and defeat of opponents...

by this standard,
the media class
still beleives in "war".

the form may have just changed to one the producers recognize,while their audiences do not.

(or one could argue the MsM/blogwolrd friction is the awakening to this info-war)