Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 27, 2006
POLITICS: The High Priesthood

Tom Elia flags this fatuous comment by Molly Ivins (is there any other kind?):

Bloggers are not news-gatherers, but opinion-mongers. I have long argued that no one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter -- nothing like interviewing all four eyewitnesses to an automobile accident and then trying to write an accurate account of what happened. Or, as author-journalist Curtis Wilkie puts it, "Unless you can cover a five-car pile-up on Route 128, you shouldn't be allowed to cover a presidential campaign."

It's bad enough to have to listen to the argument that citizens of a democracy shouldn't be entitled to publish opinions on a war if they haven't fought in one; it's even worse to hear that those citizens - whether or not they have fought in a war - shouldn't publish opinions on one if they haven't covered a war from the hazardous terrain of the Pentagon briefing room . . .

I'm tempted to retort that reporters shouldn't be allowed to offer opinions about the law, legislation, judges or the courts if they haven't gone to law school. The fact is, one of the beauties of the blogosphere is the diversity of experiences people bring to bear - there are many bloggers who can write about law, business, the military, science, medicine and other topics from first-hand experiences that few journalists can match. And on the topic of politics in particular, with the exception of academia, hardly any business in America is less subject to regulation than journalism; journalists tend, if anything, to be uniquely unqualified to understand how government interacts with the governed.

Anyway, I've never been in the "blogs will replace and destroy old media" camp, so to some extent I actually agree with Ivins' broader point that blogs can't really replace the newsgathering resources of newspapers. But if there's one area where blogs are every bit the equal of old media, it's the ability to dispense informed and incisive opinion. Bloggers who are more worthy of attention than Molly Ivins just aren't hard to find.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:18 AM | Politics 2006 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Ahhh, the fantastic spectacle of pontificating Mandarins, digging in and dishing out in an effort to protect their turf.

This embarrassing trend shows a loostening of the MSM's stranglehold on information.

Posted by: Mike at March 27, 2006 10:16 AM

Ivins' comment was stupid, but you can see the desperation in her, fearing that, like many businesses, the "paper centric" news business will be gone. Reduced certainly, and will continue, but probably not gone, at least for several generations.

Her comment reminded me of a MAry Tyler Moore episode, when Mary decided to take a journalism class. One older woman wanted to freelance, getting her news from places like TV. And how many peple today get their news from Jon Stewart, instead of whomever is on TV news these days?

Bloggers will always be a reactionary media, since that is just what a blog is. It's not journalism; neither is the op ed page of any paper. Does the WSJ or NYT have a greater claim to their opinion that anyone else? Of course not, they just have a bigger soapbox.

I admit, I AM worried about the next generation of Woodward and Bernsteins. A democracy can only ba as vital as the press is at making sure the lying SOBs in every facet of government can be scrutinized. Jefferson knew it, and used the press that way (and of course hated it when it turned against him).

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 27, 2006 11:01 AM

The fact that Molly Ivins is published shows how pathetic the MSM has become. When I was living in Wilmington, NC I would read her column for entertainment value but after awhile, her columns became so stupid and pointless I felt less intelligent after reading them. Sometimes when you read something you say "a five year old could do better!" In MI case, I think that's true. Now when you realize that, you can see her defensiveness when it comes to blogs. In the old days she could comb through the biggest newspapers and say "I'm one of the top 100 columnist in the country," however nowadays you might have to multiply that by 100.

Changing the subject somewhat but last night I was flipping through the channels and on CNN they were having some show with 6 panelists and one of them was Margeret Cho. I don't think the topic was unfunny comedians or stupid politic thought either (although with CNN you never can tell.)

Posted by: Tom at March 27, 2006 11:25 AM

Sounds remarkably like comments made especially by athletes in the genre of "if you didn't play the game you shouldn't be allowed to comment on the game." The idea is silly and ego-centric. I would expect better from her.

Posted by: jim at March 27, 2006 11:49 AM

Based on recent evidence, there now appear to be very few "journalists" capable of covering a five-car crash, let alone getting any facts straight at the New York Times.

Posted by: Jim at March 27, 2006 1:14 PM

I suppose Jim that the real reporters are at Fox News?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 27, 2006 2:49 PM

Yeah, good point in your first post, Daryl...although I wonder if both bloggers and Ivins are defending their turf...both have a place, in my opinion...I find out more in depth reporting on blogs than TV, that's for sure...on both sides of the aisle...TV news, and to a lesser extent newspapers, have spent so much time trying to become profitable that they forgot what they were selling...I would argue Google is headed in the same direction...

Ivins point on this is somewhat well taken in the larger part of the article not quoted...I like the idea of large non profit news gathering organizations...

Posted by: AstrosFan at March 27, 2006 3:05 PM

Strosfan, large non profit news gathering organizations, you mean like Pravda, or more like the BBC? There was no golden age of newsies. Just sporadic good works sprinkled between the Hearsts and Durantys of yesterday, the Blairs and so on today. As long as there is another W. Mark Felt there will always be another Woodward and Bernstein. At issue, where will we read them?

Posted by: abe at March 27, 2006 9:52 PM

It's perfectly in keeping with Ivins' liberal ideology that her first impulse is to ban those who lack her experience. Her comments are in the class of non sequitor, anyway, unless she thinks that there should be no distinction between reporting news and issuing opinions on political events.

Posted by: John Salmon at March 27, 2006 10:02 PM

My local paper carried Ivins' columns for years. I read them, and I have yet to see a demonstration of any coherent logic, where the facts she presents actually lead to her conclusions. Perhaps she should return to reporting car accidents.

Posted by: Giacomo at March 27, 2006 10:13 PM

Nice that rather than deal with the issues she raises you all just choose to trash her. Nice. She's an opinion columnist, and a good one. Doesn't always hit home runs, and the defensive nature of her position being outsourced to bloggers notwithstanding, she is a very entertaining read. I agree it was not a smart comment...but I'm pretty sure every writer has one.

Posted by: AstrosFan at March 28, 2006 3:08 PM
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