Friday, July 28, 2006

Sifting mountains of information

Malcom Gladwell, author of "Blink" and innumnerable other smart essays and observations, has been widely castigated in the blogosphere for saying something like "without the New York Times, bloggers would have nothing to write about."

He didn't mean that bloggers never do good or original work. But he did mean to suggest that in the realms of public affairs, the good ole MSM does some important work. You can read his worthwile rebuttal to criticisms here.

Here's the money graph, in my opinion:

Has the level of self-regard in the blogosphere really reached such
dizzying heights that it can’t acknowledge the work that traditional media does on behalf of the rest of us? Yes, the newspaper business isn’t as lucrative as it once was (although it’s still pretty lucrative). And it doesn’t seem as exciting and relevant as it once was. But newspapers continue to perform an incredibly important function as nformational gatekeepers—a function, as far as I can tell, that grows more important with time, not less. Between them, for instance, the Times and the Post have literally hundreds of trained professionals whose only job it is to sift through the mountains of information that come out of the various levels of government and find what is of value and of importance to the rest of us. Where would we be without them? We’d be lost.

-Howard Weaver


  1. Where would Google and Yahoo! be without us good old traditional newspapers churning out copy to the Web?

    On a somewhat related note, our marketing department is working up a campaign with a "what if?" theme. As in what if the newspaper weren't here to report on government abuses, scams against the elderly, and so forth?

  2. Dan,

    Add local radio and TV to your "what if" theme. If the other local media didn't have newspapers to "rip and read," there would be a lot of dead air out there.

    A few years ago, I saw a newspaper campaign that said something like, "Newspapers spend thousands of dollars per day gathering news. Radio stations spend 50 cents." It was accompanied with a photo of someone opening a newspaper rack.

    If it weren't for newspapers, many bloggers would have to be content writing about their semi-trivial lives or parroting press releases.