Thursday, May 7, 2009

Biting the Hand That Feeds Her

When last I saw Arianna Huffington, she professed a deep respect for newspapers. A featured speaker at a Monterey Peninsula College event not long ago, she told the crowd she reads newspapers voraciously and hinted that those who don't are blithering idiots.

She was called upon the other day to testify at a Senate committee looking into whether newspapers and their readers would benefit if they operated as nonprofits, sort of like the print versions of NPR or PBS.

Unfortunately, her testimony displayed an odd lack of understanding of the role news gatherers now play in the over-tech world of information management. Not to mention her own reliance on true journalism to propel the Huffington Post.

"Can anyone seriously argue that this isn't a magnificent time for readers who can surf the net, use search engines, and go to news aggregators to access the best stories from countless sources around the world -- stories that are up-to-the-minute, not rolled out once a day?" she asked the senators.

"No, the future is to be found elsewhere," she continued, seemingly inopposition to the nonprofit idea. "It is a linked economy. It is search engines. It is online advertising. It is citizen journalism and foundation-supported investigative funds. That's where the future is."

Like several successful "news" blog sites, Huffington's Post utilizes a mix of news from legitimate sources with a healthy diet of blathering opinions written by blowhards with little more understanding of the issues beyond what they've read in the newspapers.

Granted, this is my own blathering opinion, but . . .

If news-gathering businesses go away, from where would Huffington pull the stuff that has made her blog so successful? And if news gatherers disappear, what context would the bloviators have from which they can form their blathering opinions?

And Americans would be better served because all we would ever know about an issue will come from the blathering blogging bloviators we've bookmarked? I doubt it.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know where people get the idea that everything worthwhile is or should be migrating to cyberspace. The web is a great tool, but like all power tools, it can't replace all of our hand tools, and dependence on the internet would be foolish. If the power goes out, as it often does after natural disasters like storms and earthquakes, people would have no access to the news just when they need it most.

    On a related note, Joe, have you seen this article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled "A newspaper business model that's working".