Industry News

Bloggers Vs. The MSM

I’m going to do an online Dust-Up with KTLA’s Eric Spillman next week for The Los Angeles Times. We will discuss the relative merits of blogging vs. the mainstream media (with particular emphasis on coverage of Antonio Villaraigosa‘s sex life).

What’s a Dust-Up? According to The Times:

Each week, the editorial page hosts an online dialogue between two prominent figures on a topic of public interest. The exchanges are updated daily each morning, Monday through Friday, and featured prominently on Below are all Dust-Up exchanges.

Check out Eric’s blog. Hit me up in comments or via email on the most important issues to raise with this man.

We don’t yet have our specific agenda for discussion, but I wanted to share my biases:

* When was the last time a TV news reporter was fired for getting a story wrong?

* When was the last time a TV news reporter was fired for not breaking stories?

* When was the last time a TV news reporter was fired for not advancing stories?

* When was the last time local TV news broke an important story?

My bias is that TV news, particularly local TV news such as that coming from KTLA, makes almost no contribution to the pursuit of truth. As far as I know, TV news almost never breaks stories or even advances stories (aside from consumer investigations). The primary reason for this is institutional — you will never lose your job in TV news for not breaking stories or for not advancing stories. As long as your work and behavior is safe (according to the mores of the moment), and your looks are not scary, you are going to keep bringing in a great paycheck despite never making the slightest journalistic contribution.

(TV reporters rarely have a specific beat so they rarely build up unique expertise. When was the last time a local TV news reporter published an important book?)

Please read Eric Spillman’s blog carefully and tell me if there’s anything in there that breaks ground. Does he ever reveal new information on an important story? Does he provide important and new perspectives?

My thing is that I like to break ground. If I don’t have something to contribute, I don’t want to waste my time (unless the particular demands of a job require that I keep a blog going with cut-and-pastes, etc). I believe that all five of my books have broken ground. I believe that I have significantly advanced stories in every beat I have taken on, be it the pornography industry, movie producers, Jewish journalism, or rabbi-predators. I don’t understand why journalists who never break ground (such as the Frank del Olmos and Bob Bakers of the world) get journalistic acclaim.

My impression of TV reporters is that they primarily regurgitate the work of print reporters. It’s pictures that make TV news compelling and TV reporters have little to do with the acquisition of these pictures (which rarely have an importance beyond the emotional).

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