Fighting with one hand tied behind their back

As anyone who followed my old blog (now archived here) or read my musings in Maisonneuve Magazine’s MediaScout knows, I can be a fierce critic of the mainstream press. I try to temper the criticism by explaining that its born of a passion for the potential of the media but my scathe often overwhelms the underlying love of newspapers and radio.

So consider this doing some penance.

David Akin, blogger and mainstream journalist, points to an interesting story that broke over the last few days thanks to the work of a diligent blogger. It’s not a new narrative. Blogger digs up controversial writing from a political candidate’s past. Blogosphere carries the story. Candidate canned. Mainstream press catches up.

Back in my more reckless ranting days, I may have been one of those heaping scorn on the media for not doing this work for themselves. But, as David points out, that’s just not practical anymore.

Chalk this one up to the blogosphere. So far as I know, no mainstream paper, radio, or TV outlet reported this before [Green Party leader Elizabeth] May canned [now-ex candidate John] Shavluk.

Now that’s not a failing of the MSM.¬† No Canadian MSM outlet has the resources to do that kind of digging on the 1,500 plus candidates that will contest the election that will be underway Sunday. But smart MSM reporters will keep an eye on smart bloggers who do have the time to keep a special eye out in their part of the world.

The debate over the future viability of the traditional press has been exhaustive; I won’t delve into it again. But, as Akin points out, the mainstream media is really fighting with one hand tied behind¬†their back. Unfortunately, resources are being cut from Canadian (and world) newsrooms just when they are needed the most.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the pointer, Bob — but I’d hate for someone to get the impression that I’m suggesting/complaining about lack of resources where I am. In fact, in our newsroom, we’ve added resources in terms of people and money. And, don’t forget: Those seats on the campaign planes cost $10,000 a week each (hotels are extra!) and I don’t exactly see a lot of bloggers lining up to pay that price. And this year, we’ve got another campaign to follows – Elizabeth May’s. So I’m just saying: I don’t care if you’re the BBC or the NY Times: There’s just no way one organization can individually every candidate in 308 ridings. … Fault us if we don’t do digging on the leaders and potential cabinet members, but fifth-party candidates across the country?

    Cheers!

  2. Thanks for stopping by to comment, David, and thanks for the clarification. I think I may have oversimplified my own point, actually (the risk of blogging before the first coffee is in the system). I mean resources in relation to the expectations put upon modern newsrooms. Where once a reporter filed one or two stories at the end of the day, today reporters are filing for the web, doing longer pieces for the paper (or nightly ‘cast) and often times blogging while they do it.

    And as you said, it’s just not possible to do all of that AND vet the candidates in 308 ridings.

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