The Conventional Wisdom Machine May Be Broken-Some Sunday Culture War Links

Via Pejman Yousefzadeh via Dylan Byers:-From The AP Press: ‘8 Ways The Obama Administration Is Blocking Information:’

Those czars have to report back to central command, I imagine, and it’s worthy of note that this is the AP making a specific list of charges:

6) One of the media — and public’s — most important legal tools, the Freedom of Information Act, is under siege. Requests for information under FOIA have become slow and expensive. Many federal agencies simply don’t respond at all in a timely manner, forcing news organizations to sue each time to force action.

7) The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing. Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.

The modern Presidency is full of ‘optics,’ but the current White House is very invested in how the President is seen, spurning media outlets for its own carefully planned PR photos and branding.  When all that PR meets reality….well:

————————-

Behold a trailer for an episode of the original Star Trek. Catspaw’:

————————-

Moving along, Amity Shlaes offers a critique of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Roosevelts, and the political philosophy that often leaks through:

‘On the surface, the series’ penchant for grandees might seem benign, like the breathless coverage of Princess Kate’s third trimester in People magazine. In this country, elevating presidential families is a common habit of television producers; the Kennedys as dynasty have enjoyed their share of airtime. Still, Burns does go further than the others…’

More substance at the link. The Roosevelts earn a special place in the modern pantheon, greater than that of the Kennedys, much more intellectual than the John Lennon pathos, more old-timey than the righteousness of 60’s coalitions and Woodstock nostalgia, and more native and local than the obsessive Royal Baby Watching.

———————————————-

In the above video Burns discusses how he is primarily an artist, not an historian. He does, believe, however, that his work has other goals besides art. He sees himself as:

“…rooted in a humanist tradition of American History..that includes not just the old top down version, but the bottom up version that acknowledges women and labor and minorities….”

I’m guessing such a vision of the public good acts as a beacon for many at PBS, NPR, and other people interested in speaking for all of the public. Usually they end up, like all of us, presuming their ideals are universal and forming coalitions of self-interest, money, sentiment, political influence etc.  Their ideals have clear limitations and consequences.

Who among us can speak for all the public, or design some rational framework upon epistemological foundations that could ever do so?

To my ears, it’s pretty clear Burns’ ideals lead him to his own top-down version of things.  It would seem Big Labor, Left-liberal Woody Guthrie-like populism, coalitions of 60’s activists, feminists, environmentalists etc. tend to prosper under such a vision.

At what cost to me, to you, to those who might not share in the ideals?

Addition:  Shlaes’ suggestion seems correct.  Burns has done a lot of work to put this piece together, to tell a story and to also try and get many facts right.  It may also focus on some issues and not others, may be biased and examining history through an ideological lens. In a competitive marketplace of ideas, it’s incumbent on opposing points of view to offer their own films that do the same.

Get busy.

Related On This Site:  What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

I’m drafting on Charles Murray: The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Free speech and Muslimst From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’…  Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’… More From Spiegel Online After The Westergaard Attacks Via A & L Daily: ‘The West Is Choked By Fear’

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Greg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’

Perceptions And Reality-The News Business And Obamacare Overruns

Via Ira Stoll-Marc Andreessen: The Future Of The News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All In One Place.

If you’re in the information gathering and sharing business, you’d probably better understand how information is now being gathered and shared in order to broadcast it to as many people as possible (if you’re looking to make money and retain authority).

Many outlets still haven’t figured that out in the new landscape:

‘My take is that the rise of objectivity journalism post-World War II was an artifact of the new monopoly/oligopoly structures news organizations had constructed for themselves. Introducing so-called objective news coverage was necessary to ward off antitrust allegations, and ultimately, reporters embraced it. So it stuck.

But the objective approach is only one way to tell stories and get at truth. Many stories don’t have “two sides.” Indeed, presenting an event or an issue with a point of view can have even more impact, and reach an audience otherwise left out of the conversation.’

Are we back in an age of yellow-journalism, pamphleteering, and voices shouting from the rooftops? A period of unique opportunity before new and different monopolies form?

Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Good for a laugh:-Who reads the newspapers?

———————————-

Don’t worry, the current ideological and political interests running our government are on the cutting-edge: Peter Suderman at Reason: Healthcare.gov Cloud Computer System Cost Five Times As Much As Expected:’

‘Asked about the increased cost, a federal health official tells NextGov that “if the additional services were not added urgently, the exchanges would not function as designed and citizens would continue to have issues using the marketplace.” In other words, the original plan had been for a system that wouldn’t work.’

Remember, the winners are many of Obama’s political and ideological allies and some previously uninsured people, not necessarily everyone else.

Suderman’s wife: Megan McArdle At Bloomberg. ‘Latest Obamacare Delay Is Probably Illegal

Still Looking For Alternatives-Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Obamacare vs. Arithmetic’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Jack Shafer At Reuters: ‘Edward Snowden And The Selective Targeting Of Leaks’

Full piece here.

Shafer offers background on leaks, how they’re used for political advantage, how they’re used by the opposition party.  He finishes with:

‘We owe Snowden a debt of gratitude for restarting—or should I say starting?—the public debate over the government’s secret but “legal” intrusions into our privacy. His leaks, filtered through the Guardian and the Washington Post, give us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to place limits on our power-mad government.’

I’m not sure about the ‘power-mad government,’ but I’ve noticed that there is an individual liberty coalescence around the issue, which naturally appeals to libertarians, civil libertarians, the anarcho-left, the ACLU, some liberals, and some libertarian conservatives.  There is stronger resistance from the Obama Left (their guy is in power, possibly allowing ideological/political abuse of the DOJ and IRS) and traditional Right (placing more trust in the hierarchy and authority necessary to serve the national interest and common defense).

I’m interested in knowing just what kind of incentives we’ve been creating since the Patriot Act (for the executive branch especially), and where Big Data and Big Government are meeting.  I don’t entirely trust Snowden’s motives (likely more responsible than the anarcho-Left, recklessly ideal Wikileaks Assange and rogue Bradley Manning, but perhaps not as much as some previous leakers).

I’ll keep an ear out. 

Addition:  Why did Snowden go outside the channels available, anyways?  Eli Lake has more here.

More on Snowden.

Follow Jack Shafer on Twitter.  @jackshafer

Follow Julian Sanchez on Twitter @normative

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-‘Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Full piece here.

It’s not just all puppy dogs and citizen-journalists out there:

‘Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has achieved the thing that every company desperately seeks: An economic moat, a way to achieve persistently high profit margins that competitors cannot easily encroach. It is a textbook case of a company doing everything it can to seize and maintain competitive advantage.’

and:

‘In the heydey of print newspapers, reporters were part of a complex ecosystem that allowed publishers to maintain competitive advantage and near-monopoly status in order to make vast sums from selling advertising. In the current heydey of Bloomberg, reporters are part of a complex ecosystem to guard the data terminal business against competitors.’

Get ready for more data wars and information races, for wherever there’s a revenue stream, there are people maintaining it, tapping into it, and various others living off of it. No one likes a challenge to their near-monopoly.

Many digital publishers are paywalling-up.

News-gathering, investigative journalism and other functions of the paper used to thrive on the old revenue model. Now you can sell your cockatiel online for free, leaving some papers charging you to announce grandma’s death. The core technology has allowed very cheap access to share information, causing severe disruption.

Furthermore, that core technology is changing all the time, now going more mobile and interactive: Are blogs really being declared dead?

Bloomberg LP, however, doesn’t just focus on opinion blogging, political reporting, or cultural commentary, mind you. They go first where the money and information are. It’s a business model for the financial sector, one which has secured for itself a near monopoly on a certain kind of information and business reporting (where milliseconds matter, and millions can be gained or lost in that time).

As for near monopolies, this reminds me a bit of Microsoft, which got there first with a software package on nearly every machine, and has since maintained a competitive advantage quite well, and at times, ruthlessly.

Addition:  Laptop U?

Another Addition:  And of course I support open markets, they’re better than the government, crony-capitalist alternatives, but sometimes they can get a little monopolistic.

Related On This Site: Universities, take note.  Part of your core model can be made available to technology. Some of what happened to old media, brick and mortar business, is happening to you:

The Disruption Of Education-From AVC: ‘Video Of The Week: Mark Suster Interview of Clayton Christensen’

Good luck making money blogging:

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Whence journalism?:

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”

Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

Full post here.

“If the infinitely patient and hideously rich Graham can’t see a profitable future for the money-losing magazine, that future doesn’t exist.”

Shafer suggests that the Web isn’t necessarily the culprit, but I’d say it is.  The online content creators, organizers and arrangers are often driving the news cycle now.  Of course, they will run into most of the old, and some new problems, but it still seems most important to try and maintain the freedom the web has allowed, even as some of the more naive and innocent drivers of change run into the world.

Also:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”…Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die?.

What about pay sites?:  From Denis Pombriant: ‘Reinventing The Newspaper Business Model With Zuora

Add to Technorati Favorites

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”

Full interview here.

The Atlantic interviews one Steve Brill.

One main argument seems to be:  journalism needs to have a support structure, and as in the past, it ought to be profit-making and ad-revenue generating. This is simple economics.

Perhaps the argument even assumes something more basic: there has been and will be a pool of people pursuing their own expression of their ideas through writing (and their own self-interest).   Some of these people also pursue the interests of individuals and groups individuals they belong to, as well as individuals and groups they don’t belong to.  More broadly, these people can also pursue the interests of the common good.  

At times, journalism can be quite inspriring, and even vital to our democracy.  

Yet, do we need a professional class of information gatherers?  …of journalists?  Does developing technology actually provide the means to make them obsolete? 

Also, when does writing become a fine art (useless but for the higher reasons) anyways?  When do the journalist’s problems become the artist’s problems (who must cozy up to patrons)?

Personally, I’m not sure it follows that the current media moguls would need to be the future gatekeepers as the technology develops ahead.

Links On This Site:  Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”


 andertho

Add to Technorati Favorites

From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

Full article here. (Once archived, it won’t be (F)ree)

Gladwell argues that “Free” is a kind of utopian vision, or at least as it appears in Chris Anderson’s new book:  “Free:  The Future of a Radical Price”   What’s being overlooked is the cost of actually gathering news and information, and the infrastructure required to do so:

“This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors—that if you change the fuel you change the whole system.”

Yet, aside from this utopianism, should we go so far as to have the law step in…protecting news-gathering organizations to some degree?  

Gladwell finishes with:

“The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws”

It’s still up in the air.

See Also:  Walter Isaacson’s piece in Time a while back:  “How To Save Your Newspaper,” that is, if it isn’t already a shell of it’s former self.

See Also On This Site: Posner makes the case for some legal copyright intervention: From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers? The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

Add to Technorati Favorites