Several people have linked to this story by Washington Post media critic, Howard Kurtz:
The media are getting mad.
Whether it’s the latest back-and-forth over attack ads, the silly lipstick flap or the continuing debate over Sarah and sexism, you can just feel the tension level rising several notches. . . .
News outlets are increasingly challenging false or questionable claims by the McCain campaign, whether it’s the ad accusing Obama of supporting sex-ed for kindergartners (the Illinois legislation clearly describes "age-appropriate" programs) or Palin’s repeated boast that she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere (after she had supported it, and after Congress had effectively killed the specific earmark).
Glen Reynolds suggests a source for the anger: "I think it’s because they don’t matter as much as they once did."
He’s probably onto something, but there’s more to it. In my experience, the leader of the U.S. media is the New York Times. Other newspapers and TV news organizations read the Times and follow suit. Indeed, TV reporters sometimes learn their agenda for the day by reading the Times. That model worked for quite some time, but it is breaking down. It is now becoming obvious that the "Mainstream media" (MSM) is no such thing. Moreover, thanks to the internet (and talk radio before that, but the internet, by providing more access to independent reporting has helped talk radio make news, rather than simply comment on it), it is getting harder and harder for a reporter to know what’s going on by following only the major newspapers and magazines.
In short, the gate-keeper role of the Times (and in politics The Washington Post) in particular, and of the old media establishment, is dying. Note Kurtz’s comment, "The lipstick imbroglio is evidence that the Drudge/Fox/New York Post axis can drive just about any story into mainstream land." (Mickey Kaus had a very intelligent discussion of this change about a week ago).
But there is one more, and, as far as I can tell, little discussed, element to the story: and that is the human dynamic. Put yourself in the shoes of a reporter for the New York Times or The Washington Post. He or she has worked hard for many years to reach the top of a particular hill. And just when he gets there, he finds that the hill is a much less important one than it was before.
Moreover, he suddenly finds that rogues and upstarts of whom he has never heard, and who have not put the years in, in the blogosphere, are getting more attention, and are more important than he. Combine that with the sad state of the news business, and there’s a real prolem. Each week, he hears of old friends and colleagues losing their jobs because the newspapers and perhaps networks too, can’t afford to pay them. If you’re 45 or so, and have just made it, and perhaps have a couple of kids who want to go to college, it’s going to cause grey hairs and ulcers.
Perhaps that’s partly behind Kurtz’s anger. His own status, as the most important media critic in the U.S., is much less than it was when he got to the top of the heap a the Post.
P.S. This might also explain some of the big media reaction to Governor Palin. She represents all that. She did not work hard in high school to get to a top, Ive league school. She did not go to Washington and work her way up. Instead, she worked in a place they had barely heard of, and yet is jumping past people they know in the climb for status. (The references to Palin’s job as a sportscaster when she was younger fit in here. She was not from the "serious" side of the business.) It’s just not fair.
Update: Byron York notes this comment by the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher:
“In this time of ‘American Idol,’ bedroom bloggers and the belief that experience, knowledge and education don’t necessarily mean a whole lot, Palin is a symbol, a statement that anyone can make it if he or she really tries.
“In this hyperdemocratized society,” Fisher continued, “the national conviction that anyone can succeed is morphing into a belief that experience and knowledge may almost be disqualifying credentials.”
Note the implied contrast between "bedroom bloggers" and real credentialed (ie: "vetted"?) newsmen.