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A proud member of the reality based commentosphere since 2000. You can find my two Eurocent mainly at liberal and centrist discussion threads, but also at some other surprising places. Also tweeting now, as user "graygoods".

Monday, September 04, 2006

The MSM doesn't dig it! [Updated]

There's a disturbing trend in the MSM. More and more magazines and newspapers chose to offer 'analysis' instead of news. Here's a recent example.

Well, I guess we all know how their 'analysis' will look like. More gratuitous spin for Bush, Rove, and Co. But maybe the MSM is heading towards a nasty surprise. Hell, do they really think anyone will give them hard earned money for opinions anymore? If we want opinions, Steve, the unstoppable blog machine, and many other relentless bloggers offer it for FREE!

There has to be a reason the Times (NY of course) doesn't want to publish the 'profits' of their Times Select business. Almost nobody wants to pay for columnists anymore, not even for Krugman! Of course, the price is dependant on the relation between demand and supply. Someone once said 'Opinions are like assholes - everybody has one'. The blogosphere is evidence of this, lots of assholes and opinions there, and it boosted supply beyond all expectations. This made it difficult to make money by simply publishing columns. So, the new role for the MSM today is not to provide 'analysis', but to provide the facts. How long will they be digging their own grave before they realize that?

(originally posted at Steve Gilliard's site and at Buzzmachine)

Ok, half an eternity after I posted this (two days later), Ezra Klein, one of the most thoughtful bloggers of all, ran a story based on the same news. Sadly, we're not exactly on the same line of thinking regarding the validity of Time's business decision (his point of view is between 170-190 degrees different from mine). No big deal, I'm deeply suspicious of people who share my opinions. :D
Of course, I couldn't resist and added my two eurocent, raising the total of that thread to about 46 cent. Here's my comment that actually clarifies my idea about that sparse good, 'facts':

"News just doesn't keep. Good analysis, however, does."

Hmm, ok, but we're not talking about good analysis here, we're talking about the MSM. :D
Honestly, how many good examples have you seen there recently? In times when guesswork about the choice of clothing of a candidate is called campaign analysis and when most space for stories on the economy is used for pie charts, the trend seems to go in the direction of infotainment, not towards being thoughtful and well researched. And the problem is, analysis always is evaluation, so it's based on opinion. And opinions are extremely cheap nowadays, there are thousands of blogs where you get them for free, no matter what the topic might be. Economics 101: If a good is given away for free, selling it will negatively affect your business...

No, the MSM has to concentrate on goods that are sparse, creating a benefit that readers, many of which are bloggers, are willing to pay for. What good might that be? News, and especially investigated facts. Bloggers simply lack the manpower, the budget, and, sadly, in many cases the knowledge to do deep research. But it's the news, stupid, and the facts in it that fuel the blogosphere. So there's the great advantage of the MSM and they should capitalize on it. There's only one downside to it:
Facts have a well known liberal bias (here's to you, Stephen Colbert!).
The corporate media might not want that...

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