The Downfall of Traditional News Media

I've developed a 3-part series of articles that posits the downfall (yes, I'm using this word for dramatic effect) of traditional news media, the emergence of the independent journalist and its relevance to the real estate blogosphere. Suffice to say, it positions blogging as one of the main disrupters in the new media. I'll be posting each article on a daily basis this week:

Part 1: Traditional news media credibility erodes in the face of the new journalism

Part 2: The rise of Punditry and why it actually makes real estate blogging more credible to the consumer (including a link to a recent must-see survey on how the public perceives its news and information sources)

Part 3: How the real estate blogosphere will evolve in the future and how bloggers can position themselves to succeed as the new journalists (and at the same time, market their services!)

Part 1: The Traditional News Media's credibility erodes in the face of the new journalists

The news media - the
New York Times , WSJ , the "three networks", CNN , Fox , local news broadcasts, local newspapers, etc. - has traditionally been the source for "real-time" information to the masses. Journalists who work for these organizations typically enter the profession directly from college or journalism school and learn the journalist ropes as a "cub", then as a "beat" reporter. The career path continues through these media companies... it is rare for journalists to jump into another career and gain experience in business, law or public service, and then return to journalism. Without real world working experience, journalists have only a superficial knowledge of how an industry or government entity operates, they generally can't see the hidden layers and relationships that drive the institutions.

When the news media was the only source for, umm... news, journalist credibility was hard to question. Today, counterpoint has become the journalist's bête noire. Here are two examples from last Sunday's (11/12/06) New York Times Business section in which its columnists are criticized by their blogging peers:

NYT article by Daniel Akst, journalist : America has become a job-generation machine and can continue to "export"/outsource jobs overseas at an increasing rate.

BigPicture's Barry Ritholtz, who runs a market strategy firm, contends that Akst's statistics are incorrectly applied and that the Times has forsaken its fact-checking duties. In sum, Ritholtz claims Akst ignores the fact that America is generating low quality jobs and outsourcing the high quality jobs overseas and that undermines his fundamental contention that "more jobs = more outsourcing".

Here are two comments from BigPicture:

Posted by: dblwyo | Nov 15, 2006 9:39:05 AM

I think you are being unfair to the Times in calling them intellectually dishonest -- they don't know any better than to publish that kind of tripe (at least that is my judgment based on my friends who work there). I stopped relying on the Times as a source for anything other than crossword puzzles a long time ago. The traditional liberal media has been replaced by the new, inept media.

Posted by: Neal | Nov 15, 2006 9:25:15 AM

NYT business section sux. Nuff said.
Bloggers have started to kill off the paper based old media. See Time magazine probs. Subscribers falling like flies? Raise the cover price! LOL. If it wasn't so sad. Weekly(?) newsmagazine is almost oxymoronic.

NYT article by John Markoff, NYT's influential tech journalist  : Web 3.0 will mine data to automate complex processes and streamline consumer decision making within the internet application.

No less than four prominent tech bloggers immediately panned Markoff's Web 3.0 vision as no substance:

Web 3.0 is dead on arrival. In Sunday's New York Times, respected technology journalist John Markoff detailed the coming of Web 3.0 — the movement to imbue digital data with meaning so that it can be better understood by computers — and the blogosphere shot the idea down in cold prose.

"There's no story here," states blogger Robert Scoble, pointing to Valleywag's similar dismissal. "Web 3.0 does not validate," says blogger Nick Bradbury.

Publisher and Web 2.0 Summit co-founder Tim O'Reilly says Markoff's description of Web 3.0 really describes Web 2.0, although he endorses the idea that "building systems that combine human and machine intelligence is a huge part of the oncoming future."

That's a safe bet — the notion that people and machines will work better together as time goes on isn't exactly going out on a limb. But it's also a far rosier view of machine intelligence than is warranted by reality.

The point here is I and most people wouldn't be able to verify the accuracy of 99% of the NYT business articles, but certain experts, who happen to represent the new journalism as bloggers, can. For example, in one such instance, I could verify the facts in the recent Forbes article by Scott Woolley on title insurance because I have three years experience in the industry and even compiled a list of articles and government reports where many of the facts used in the article can be found. Scott does not have experience in the title industry and could only assemble the facts together with an interview with the CEO of First American Title and present them as is. I had enough knowledge to craft a response that addresses some of the issues presented within the article.

I'm not positing journalism is over as a career... writing well is an incredible talent. It's just that now, the new journalist cannot write in a vacuum hoping they've done enough research to evince a credible story... they will need to embrace dialogue with experts, including the associated blogosphere. It's a different ballgame and reforming the old ways of researching and reporting... it's much more resource intensive because it requires collaboration (not just with the editor) AND fact checking with the collaborators... and guess what? bloggers tend to do this as protocol (hopefully well). The payoff is a quality article.


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  • 11/21/2006 4:14 PM Athol Kay wrote:
    To make matters worse for the media, all it takes is ONE pesky blogger to start tugging on a loose end to unravel a great heaping mess if you didn't do your homework right.
    Reply to this
    1. 11/21/2006 4:32 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Exactly Athol! Pleased to meet you finally... my friend Kevin thinks highly of you... I'm working on your "vacation" article as we speak... umm... write... I'm hoping you find it very original! Stay tuned...

      Reply to this

  • 11/22/2006 9:44 AM Drew Meyers wrote:
    Great post.

    Athol-that's exactly the reason that corporate blog monitoring is so critical (IMO). To help correct bloggers that don't have all the facts right. If a company doesn't monitor the blogosphere--an article written with the wrong set of facts could become viral and hit the mainstream (creating an unnecessary PR nightmare).
    Reply to this

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