Archive for internet

Not necessarily the news

Posted in The News with tags , , , on June 4, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

Walter Cronkite must be rolling in his grave. He is dead, right?

OK, I Googled him, and it seems he’s still with us. But I’d prefer to hear it from him. I trust him. At one time, every American trusted him, back when there were only three channels, back when people with gray hair were allowed on TV. Legend has it he delivered the news to a whole generation with a grandfatherly voice of authority.

These days, where do we turn for the truth? Wikipedia? Tila Tequila? The democratization of the news by the Internet is all well and good, but with everybody and his blogger chiming in, it’s hard to find someone you can trust.

The rise of the blogger has had every newspaper in the country running scared for years and trying to copy what the most popular sites are doing. Squandering their reputation as papers of record rather than capitalizing on it, they’re getting rid of reporters, sports writers, book reviewers and movie critics because “readers can get that information elsewhere.”

Unfortunately, this “elsewhere” that newspapers are surrendering to is a mess of nameless, faceless bloggers spouting opinions as facts (imagine!) and attention whores posing as journalists. If the Titanic were to sink tomorrow, would we go to Perez Hilton for the story (and the requisite “going down” jokes)?

It’s not easy to navigate through the bullshit online. Just today I found several “news” stories saying Hillary Clinton has not conceded! As preposterous as that sounds, I bet there are a lot of gullible people out there who believe it’s true.

I know the trustworthiness of our nation’s newspapers has come into question over the years, and that the mainstream media completely failed us on Iraq. And I know there are respected voices on the web — the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, Matt Drudge. But now that everybody is a writer, a journalist, a commentator or a critic, how will we find the Walter Cronkites of the web?

“We are all newsmen now,” Drudge famously said. Problem is, if anybody can report the “news,” can we trust any of it? I mean, a minute ago Cronkite was dead.