More lamenting (As the banner-head indicates, I tilt, frequently, at wind-mills.)

This time, courtesy of Prospect, we wax elegiacally on the risks that legitimate journalism faces as traditional print news-papers (You know, those that allow you not to stare at idiot-box version two-point-zero.)

The problem is that the free information economy of HuffPost is actually very costly when it comes to reliable knowledge about the world. As professional journalists are replaced by opinionated celebrities competing for recognition in the attention economy, how will an Arianna Huffington, blogging from her home in Brentwood, LA, know what’s happening in Tehran or Washington? As newspapers shut down their foreign desks—something that is already happening—how will we Huffington readers know whether to trust the accuracy of her work?

[ . . . ]

So how can we save journalism and keep democracy alive? HuffPost’s solution is to go back to Huffington’s compatriot Aristotle* and his communitarian theories of citizenship. If the political community (the polis) is undermined by the crisis in news reporting, then we all have a responsibility, as citizens, to report the news ourselves. Journalism is transformed into a moral calling. And thus is born the seductive idea of the “citizen journalist”—the ethical man or woman of the new media age

So if the untrained citizen journalist can’t save democracy, who can? Not HuffPost’s celebrity bloggers, since they have no interest in tramping the streets researching original stories. Only trained reporters with proper editors can do this. And they are being laid off by increasingly unprofitable US newspapers which can’t compete with HuffPost.

My submitting that I rail, whole-sale, against on-line media would, of course, require a blatant obfuscation of the truth: I maintain this web-log, read numerous others, and gather news on-line (It’s where I discovered the article that I’ve excerpted!), just as I do, virtually every morning, from the Washington Post. None-the-less, I believe — worry, too — that Andrew Keen is spot-on: I live just a few miles from D.C., and I’m hardly fit to offer first-hand accounts of breaking news; Huffington may have a vastly more extensive network of people in the know than I, but she’s still on the Left Coast, and she’s not really playing the by the old rules, so to speak. As Keen suggests, this can only hurt us all. Where the solution lies, I know not; nor knows he. Further relying on commentators who perform no due diligence, though, certainly cannot be it.

*Please, M’r Keen, don’t disparage the Philosopher by grouping him and M’s Huffington together.


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