So last Saturday Jeff Jarvis wrote a post that I only just found today. He discusses the Pew Research Center's study on Americans' views of their news media. He discusses the unsurprising and not particularly interesting realization that, shocker, the public is less and less trustworthy of the media. The first graphic that Jeff uses, highlights "Persistent Criticisms of the Press" He goes on to discuss the MSM and the reasons that they are losing the trust of the public and the divide being drawn between the educated and younger media consumers who are going online, and older consumers who are stuck in the world of television and USA Today.
Unfortunately, if you take a closer look at the graphic, you may see what I see. What I see is that across the board, yes all the numbers indicating positive views of the Press are much lower than they were in 1985, but, except for "Protect Democracy," they're also 7, 4, 5, and 17 points better than they were in 2002, marking an upward trend over the last 5 years, aka, more than 20% of the time period in question, so I would ask, what is it that has marked this great change in criticisms?
The first and easiest observation to make is that this upward trend coincides with the normalization of blogs on the internet, both blog writing and reading, which really became common in 2002. I would say that this could be a negative trend, as displayed in the large number of comments to Jeff's post. Why is this negative? Well, unfortunately, rather than contributing to an enlightening, group-educating discussion, they split on right and left dogma and became the general flame-fest of many blog comment sections.
I worry that blogs, particularly left and right blogs like DailyKOS / Talking Points Memo and Little Green Footballs / MichelleMalkin.com /etc contribute to the sectarianization and tribalization of society, and not in a good way ! Not in a healthy, "everyone has their own likes and dislikes and niches" sort of way. But instead in a breakdown of the social fabric and increase in the overall fragmentation of civilization.
So please, let's try to make blogs good for crowd-educating as well as crowd-sourcing and crowd-entertaining. It's for the good of ourselves and our children!
One last note, Jeff expresses ongoing shock at the popularity of the local news... Maybe I'm the only one in the citizen media / networked journalism segment of the blogosphere who comes from a working-class non-intellectual family, but I understand this perfectly. The local news watching segment corresponds with the older segment of news consumers. These are folks who still believe in local community and having ties to their town and neighbors. Sure the "upwardly mobile and attractive" anchors and reporters are not necessarily loyal to the given community, but people like to feel that they are connected, that they understand each other.
That's why social networking sites are exploding with the fragmented over-worked young professionals, and local television is still strong with the older folks. Let's be honest, what is really good about MySpace or Facebook or, gasp, even e-mail? Sure they help you stay in touch with your friends and be connected with your family that are far away, but ask yourselves, why don't you just see your friends in the real world, and no I'm not talking about Second Life.
There is a great opportunity for us to use networked journalism and the benefits of RSS and other new Web 2.0 technologies to greatly increase community and de-fragment our society and civilization beforer its too late. But we have to make the choice and we have to act. Otherwise Web 2.0 will just be fun and interesting for the intellectuals and the hipsters, and the privileged.
That's not what I want, nor do I want the shitty Local News that's too focused on crime and weather to continue to be the only option.
I hope you don't either.