Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Bloggers need to take a deep breath...

I haven’t posted on the CBS memo scandal because I have no special expertise or unique perspective to contribute. I’ve been following the story, and I’m pretty well convinced the memos are fake, and I’ll be watching to see how it all sorts out.

Meanwhile, bloggers are busy congratulating themselves on taking down CBS or even the “Old Media” in total. James Pinkerton describes the recent events as a paradigm-shift in media history, “the day the ‘blogosphere’ took down CBS News.” Captain Ed says, “CBS is Toast.” Tom Maguire speaks of the “battle for the credibility of the Mainstream Media.”

These types of comments strike me as unseemly and premature. Sure, the blogosphere was at the center of this story, and CBS has taken a hit. But there have been media scandals in the past. CBS isn’t going to crumble over this, nor is the main stream media in general going to panic. They will survive, and survive quite nicely.

These are large organizations with lots of resources. They not only have the means to report the news, they have the infrastructure to adapt and evolve. It remains to be seen how large a wave the blogs have made with this issue; my guess is that it’s a pretty small one in the overall scheme. To the extent that recent events change the way the news is produced, it’s much more likely that the “Old Media” will incorporate or simply absorb the blogosphere than it is that any real revolution will take place.

Bloggers should be proud of their contributions, and they’ve given reason to be taken seriously. But when they go around singing “Ding dong, the witch is dead,” it undermines that contribution. They come off looking more like a bunch of adolescent hacks on some power trip than like responsible journalists who wish to be taken seriously. And that's a dangerous thing, because that is same trap that CBS fell into.

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