Throwing punches from the future at the past

lincoln sizes arthur up
Photo by Mr. Wright. Some rights reserved.

It’s interesting to watch the brouhaha over Arrington vs the Old Media from the sidelines. I mean, personally I could care less who “comes out on top” even if there is a top to be had anymore (see my post on starfish and you’ll see why self-referenced A-listers and the Old Guard are threatened — or, as Tara has pointed out, that the New Guard behaves frightening like the Old (and should be routed around, like any efficient system should)).

As Jarvis says the way to win is to commit better journalism than [journalists] do.

Amen. Back to the ol’ meritocracy we’re all so fond of. Oh.. and that the old hegemonic guard despises.

You could stop reading there, but there are some juicy quotes that I think are worth pulling out, if only for posterity and for those of you without time to read a bunch of white men arguing amongst themselves in public:

From Jarvis:

The stinky-cheese irony of this is, of course, that even as [Arrington] tried to cast aspersions on The Times, he only succeeded in shooting his own credibility — and with it, likely, the credibility of fellow bloggers — in the foot.

Whoa-ho-ho…! By suggesting impropriety on the part of the Times, he shot down his and other bloggers’ credibility?? Ree-hee-healy! Starting to sound a little Bushian there, are we not? You’re either with us or against us and anything in between is treason?

I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole journalism-is-beyond-reproach thing is inherently part of the problem. Somehow the chain of command and fact-checking that journalists are supposed to do somehow gives them, prima facie, more credibility than bloggers … that out of that rigorous process, they have more ethics than bloggers … which basics ignores the entire history of human reportage (hell, even the few times I’ve been quoted in the MSM, I’ve been misrepresented).

When any medium of dissent becomes a pipe of flailing , you better believe that those on the receiving end, fed up with circular Newspeak abuse, will come up with a better means of communicating amongst one another, that’s both more local, more direct and subverts the existing hierarchy (or disintermediates them, as is popular to say).

It’s natural evolution, man.

So in that vein, I love what Steve Gillmor has to say:

Forget superior for a second, and look at what happened when music rebooted in the Sixties. Were The Beatles superior to Sinatra? Coltrane to Armstrong? Dylan to Guthrie? Did they boo Dylan? Yes they did. Now we see that as the watershed of the era. Was this a problem? Listen to the newly-discovered tape of Dylan with Butterfield’s band at Newport and it’s stunning in its obvious power. They were booing because they were insulted, scared, angry, moved.

I am moved by Arrington’s story. God knows I could care less about all this page view Web 2.0 shit that he’s leading, but when he doubts himself and suggests even briefly that he should prepare better for a next time, I say no fucking way. Prepare better for what? It’s like Hendrix dialing back the funk or Miles apologizing for standing with his back to the audience or any of you out there settling for the pathetic crap that floods the blogosphere or the so-called mainstream media. It’s hard to cut through the noise; it’s simple but dangerous to make enemies. In an interrupt-driven media world, where “bloggers” and “journalists” compete head to head on every story, it’s one big race for class president going on here.

The New York Times is a great publication on its good days, a lying pack of self-protective weasels on others. Same for every one of us in the blogosphere. When I see Arrington filibuster on the floor of the Senate, I see one of us out there making a fool, and us proud, of himself. Suck it up, mainstream media. Next time it’s your turn. Something is going on here and we do know what it is.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

One thought on “Throwing punches from the future at the past”

  1. It’s enlightening to watch how people who weren’t at this panel are reacting to it. People like to reduce things down to X vs. Y since it’s easier to think of that way, but the brouhaha wasn’t about Mike’s view of media versus The New York Times’ view of media at all. The brouhaha was about *how* things were said. I think the same conversation could have been had in a more calculated and reasonable fashion and everyone would have been fine.

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