Rupert Murdoch, the Dark Lord of mass media, has this to say about the relation between newspapers and their audiences:
“It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven’t always responded well when the public calls them to account.”
To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a “60 Minutes” report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.
“Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively. During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. ’60 Minutes,’ he said, was a professional organization with ‘multiple layers of checks and balances.’ By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as ‘a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.’ But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.
“Mr. Rather and his defenders are not alone,” he continued. “A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let’s be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves.”
Not bad for a 77-year-old. Of course, Murdoch also believes newspapers can grow their audiences “if papers provide readers with news they can trust.” But that’s like saying that communism could have endured forever, if only the Soviet Union had embraced free markets. (HT: Instapundit)