Why Blogging Cannot Replace Newspapers

 Journalism has had a bad rap even since before the "yellow" era of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who regularly invented histrionic stories, ran fake interviews, doctored photos, and skewed to suit his own political agenda almost every event his papers published. Yet if we examine the overall presence of the news media in the last few decades, we have to acknowledge that it is a largely positive institution. Without a free, active, and responsible media, there never would have been a Woodward and Bernstein to expose Nixon's dirty laundry or any of the other great scoops, exposes and history-changing stories which have marked the post World War II media, both print and broadcast.

When the journalistic Pandora's Box of online news was cracked open barely a decade ago, no one could have at that time suspected that in very short order most daily newspapers in the world would soon be on their last legs, that the television evening news viewership would be outdrawn by any number of soap operas or tawdry reality shows, and that the seven billion people on this planet would have gone from a "reasonable certainty" that the news they received was as accurate as feasible, to a "reasonable uncertainty" that what they were reading had any relevance to reality at all.

Although the proponents of online blog journalism propose a fairly strong argument in that the overwhelming variety and participation on the internet of massive number of competing pseudo-journalists make it quite impossible to state an out and out invention as a true news story, that does not address the principle of skewing a story, a la Hearst, to suit particular agendas. Although the "such and such a celebrity has died" hoax is easily dismissed in a few hours from its first Tweet by the presence of the allegedly dead personality at a press conference, there can be no excuse for the irresponsibility of the "modern Vandals" who constantly agitate, scheme and devise for the sole self-gratifying "lolz" of watching the effects of their malfeasance ripple across the internet.

Thus the world's population enters a news scenario which is conceivably worse than those experienced in totalitarian nations where all news was propaganda. At least in those situations an intellectual can determine that everything is faked, and thus believe the opposite of what the medium is stating to be true. Instead, the current online news jumble resembles the famous story of the liar. "He lies 50% of the time and tells the truth the other 50% of the time... how do you ever know what is true and what is a lie?"

The thought of a newspaper or broadcast news organization without editors is unthinkable, yet the blogosphere has created a form of journalism where the reporter is the judge, jury, and executioner. At least in the old days a reporter who was caught faking a story could face dismissal, unlike today's bloggers who in the case of being caught red handed just close one blog and launch a new one under a different name. Online, anyone can call themselves a journalist, even though they may not even be able to spell it, and thus establish a soapbox to air their own particular vision of the world, powered by gray and black hat SEO schemes to draw as many gullible foolish readers into reading and believing their blather.

It is next to impossible to determine without digging into the background of each site (which most news readers are loathe to do) whether the Rumpton Herald is an established newspaper which has been publishing a print edition of record in Rumpton for over a century, or whether it's just the invention of some fifteen year old bored butthead Rumpton kid who is trying to discredit the boy who stole his cheerleader girlfriend.

After all, nobody knows what kind of dog (or monster) you are on the internet. As one of my Hubs today will surely demonstrate.

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Comments 16 comments

maven101 profile image

maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

Sure, there are "editors" for newspaper quality control...problem is the " editors " are in collusion with the so-called impartial journalists that carry a progressive agenda in their reportage ...Journalism 101 now teaches that not only must the journalist report the news, they must also create it, mold it, and influence it to fit into the progressive agenda they espouse...

Newspapers will continue in a local market, but I see a marginalizing effect when it comes to national news...the same with the big three TV news networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC...when the nation finally goes digital, and satellite TV becomes cheaper and more readily available, these monopolistic dinosaurs will fade to black...Nice Hub with plenty of good info...Thanks, Larry

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for your comment. The fact that the vast majority of the media is just a bit to the left of Lenin is indisputable. The problem is that we are in the midst of replacing a mostly left-leaning news institution which did have a form of checks and balances implemented with a news mechanism where there are no quality and accuracy controls whatsoever... and although it does not specifically lean right or left overall, success is gained through extremism. I fully agree that the old news model had its severe problems but this new model is sheer insanity. The crazier something is, the more readers it gets. That's not news, that's Roman Coliseum.

maven101 profile image

maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

And like the Roman Coliseum, newspapers, at least for me, are forms of entertainment...if I want hard news I find my way to Drudge, or WSJ online...if I want speculation, considered opinion, or sheer fantasy, yes, I go to certain bloggers that produce just that...I'm just sick and tired of having to wade through a bunch of progressive innuendo to get the straight skinny...so many agendas, so little time to segregate the wheat from the chaff...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

There have been conservative newspapers but I do agree they are few and far between. I believe the USA is extremely unusual among truly democratic nations as the press does not reflect the views of the readers on a proportional basis. You can go to any European country and find that the percentage of conservative, centrist, and liberal papers roughly equals the percentage of the electorate that fits within those ideological categories. In the USA, 99% of the press is to the left of center. Very strange.

maven101 profile image

maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

Very strange, and very understandable...the left has been pushing out progressive useful idiots via most collegiate liberal arts programs since the sixties....seldom will progressive ideas take root in a technical, or "hard" science curricula...I know because I was one of those ( as a history teacher ) that was required to push certain agenda-driven curricula that I refused to teach...the diminutization of American history, the progressive political correctness applied to the historical record, the study of race and gender, per se, and the progressive interpretation of our founding documents...these folks have insidiously infiltrated our educational system, our major media outlets, film, music, the environmental discussion, and, unfortunately, the law...unelected activist judges are forcing cultural change through social engineering and political corruption...and the newspapers are turning a blind eye to most of it, unless its an activist conservative...

Where are the demands from the NY Times, Washington Post, or the Baltimore Sun to allow photos of the coffins of fallen soldiers arriving at Dover AFB..? Seen a lot of that when GW Bush was in office...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

maven101, dude, I can't do it since I'm not a citizen but you gotta run for Prez. If only the American people had a chance to listen to REASON the way you describe it, you could go down as the greatest Commander in Chief since Lincoln! Hear hear!

maven101 profile image

maven101 7 years ago from Northern Arizona

OK,OK, Hal...I'll fold my soap box and trudge back to my humble abode and lift a glass of red wine to salute those Americans that do " get it "....

As a Canadian you must remember the remark made by your ambassador in Iran when he gave shelter to those Americans that made it to his embassy grounds during the Iranian assault and take-over of the US Embassy in Tehran during Carter's 4 years and out tenure...He was asked by the international media why he gave sanctuary to the Americans...He said " Because that's what friends do for friends..."...I would hope that innate American/Canadian friendship remains...Larry

Mike Craggs profile image

Mike Craggs 7 years ago from UK

I think a lot of people are simply trawling around looking for something which panders to their own prejudice and preconception.

Mainstream media may supply that with greater eloquence and better grammar than bloggers, but it still has little to do with pure 'truth' which can never exist for any single individual. Everything is opinion.

And incidentally most of your comments would no doubt be disputed by many pseudo-liberals here on HubPages. Many see the corporate media as a vast right-wing conspiracy that are no more than the propaganda wing for big business.

But then you could argue that many blogs are simply propaganda for the individual blogger's wants and desires.

What is 'right' and 'wrong', are they fixed or relative?

Newspapers are struggling, like the music industry, because they aren't trying to adapt to the markets, they want the markets to adapt to them, just as everyone always does. When publishing in general was more of a closed shop they had more effective power to achieve that, now the Internet has splintered that power corporate media is struggling for a way to stay in business.

That implies that it is power which allows big business to make money not necessarily competency. As long as they, the corporate media, could collude with power they could control things and both profited. The Internet has broken that dominance to a small extent. But that will only last until they find a way to legislate it under the control of the wealthy and powerful and marginalise the dissenters. Then it will be back to business as usual.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Overall I think that newspapers are more reliable sources of news but they too have problems

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

maven101: I can only hope that the Canadian US friendship survives Janet Napolitano. There are more than a few noses out of joint on this side of the line with her misguided policy that every Canadian is a terrorist unless proven otherwise. Cross border trade has drooped, tourism has been slashed, and it's now about as easy to enter the USA as it was to enter West Berlin... from East Berlin!

Mike Craggs: The internet as it exists today will be essentially gone in six to eight years max. What will take its place is impossible to know (if I did, I'd be the next Bill Gates) but the paradigm of people sitting in a chair tapping keyboards all day long is going to be history very fast. Therefore I don't believe that big business will be able to harness this resource and it will remain the Wild West, until superceded by the unknown. Now, any pseudo-liberals or pseudo-anythings who state that the media is right wing have been standing on their heads so long they're on the verge of passing out. Sure, I can state that Rush Limbaugh is a socialist just as much as I can state the moon is made out of green cheese. Both are absurd, as is their statement. Right and wrong is never relative, always fixed. Humans have a very clear moral and ethical compass: What supports that compass is right, what demolishes it is wrong. That is why Marxism is wrong, has always been wrong, and will always be wrong.

ethel smith: Newspapers have had problems since their inception. However, when anyone can Photoshop a photo of Loch Ness and plug in a monster, how can we believe anything we read anywhere?

Dutch Hermit profile image

Dutch Hermit 7 years ago from Utrecht

Maven101 and Hal Licino: There is no left nor a right wing. The claim of all newspapers being leftist is plain bullshit and the same conspiracy as Bush who would have made up 9/11 by himself.

Hal Licino: Over all I think this hub is very true. There is a lot of crap on all kinds of blogs. And everyone can call him (or her)self a journalist. But you must realize that with the name journalist also comes the responsibility of a journalist, which can be tried by the council of journalism (Each western nation has one under different names) and when they do not act towards this responsibility this wil become clear and will be publicised in mayor newspapers. So, I don't really see this problem.

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

Randy Hearst will also be remembered for harshing the mellow of pot smokers across the US. His successful efforts to criminalize Mary Jane dwarf his negative impact on journalism, yes?

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ThePeeDeeWildcat 7 years ago from Just Across The State Line

Hal:---I largely agree with your conclusion that blogging cannot replace good newspapers but, at least here in the States, newspapers and other media have nobody to blame for their demise but themselves. Many people are flat tired of seeing and hearing America constantly blamed by elitist editors and journalists for the ills of the world. Likewise, white males are fed up at the ridicule aimed at them by these people. So why purchase a newspaper and patronize their advertisers? For that matter, why view the network news? People have a legitimate right to be skeptical of their news coverage. You mentioned earlier in your Hub about the press coverage during Watergate. I can remember that time quite well. One thing that the press at that time liked to preach incessantly to the public was that " the public has a right to know ". Well, " the public's right to know " seems to ebb and flow with whatever administration and party holds office. For example, the Obama administration can count on the slavish obedience of editors and journalists throughout the American media. Ronald Reagan and the Bushes were never afforded such a luxury! The American media is little more than a collection of cheerleaders and shills in their coverage of Barak Obama and his administration. Many Americans are willing to take the risk of forsaking the news media and searching elsewhere for news. I believe that the era of the newspaper is over here in America.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Dutch Hermit: There is no left or right wing? So I guess the entire post Industrial Revolution political history I learned was wrong! Geez. Thanks for setting me straight... :) As for your newspaper claim I can easily point out the countless university and independent studies which prove the point that the American press strongly leans left. And as for the council of journalism, why don't we establish the council of bloggers? I'll volunteer to act as judge, jury and executioner! And beeeeeeelieve me I can think of a few bloggers that would definitely merit that! :)

nicomp: Hearst was a real piece of work, there's no doubt about that. But I think that his fire stoking in the Spanish American War might sway more historians than the ganja. Not that I don't have a lot of very nice Rastafarian friends. :)

ThePeeDeeWildcat: Of course monolithic newspaper corporations bear much of the blame. From the day Murdoch took over his first American newspaper it's been downhill for the industry. You do certainly help to prove my point about the leftist slant of the vast majority of papers in the USA. I completely agree that Obama selling out the country to the Communists rates about the same level of media attention as Dubya picking his nose in public. The newspaper era may be over, but where do we get our news now? News gathering is an extremely expensive operation. It can't be financed through the Adsense shower of pennies.

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ThePeeDeeWildcat 7 years ago from Just Across The State Line

Hal:---You pose a good question as to "where do we get our news now"? I do know that talk radio has relied on British newspapers for years simply because they could find news pertaining to American politics there that would never be reported in American papers. Are American newspapers really much superior now compared to, say, Pravda and Tass of years ago? Not much. Something and somebody else will fill the vacuum left by the demise of newspapers.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I gained a whole new respect for Pravda when they ran an editorial a few months back attacking the hard turn to the left that the Obama Administration has undertaken. The irony of reading Pravda criticizing the White House for socialist actions was not lost on me. In fact, I think it's given me food for thought about an Eurasia-Eastasia Hub (Orwell). I will always read a London (non-Murdoch) paper with a greater respect than I would attribute to the NY or LA Times, but even the august British press is feeling the impact of declining readership. Most of the previously "stiff upper lip" papers are now carrying soccer star news on the front pages. Even the previously impeccable BBC News is turning into a Sky News clone. "Gordon Brown shoots the Queen, but first... will the Chelsea goalkeeper's crotch pimple keep him from the pitch this week?" HEEEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!! Bwaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....

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