Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The End Of Big MSM

Iraq and Katrina show us the future of Big MSM - there isn't one.

The print MSM has traditionally provided four things: facts, opinion, entertainment and advertising. The last three are fast moving to cable, talk radio, gaming systems, eBay, on-line media and the blogosphere. So that leaves them with just the facts.

So how does the MSM's factual reporting stack up on the year's two big stories - New Orleans and Iraq?

New Orleans

The MSM was, at best, a rumor mill which caricatured the poor of New Orleans as black barbarians and overstated the number of deaths by over 10 times.

It was was wrong in every other essential fact - there were no riots, snipers, arsonists, rapists, cannibals, bloated bodies jamming the pumps, plagues, murdered babies, piles of corpses, homes under water for months or toxin-laden water (actually no dirtier than regular storm runoff). The levees were not overtopped but canal banks were undermined by an apparent design flaw. The only useful reportage was provided by an amateur photographer.

Iraq

MSM reporting is hotel-based and adds zero value to the feet on the street - Michael Yon, the Milblogs, Mohammed, and the Coalition and Iraqi Government press releases. The truth will surface after the upcoming election as the increasingly competent Iraqi military and police finishes off the "insurgents" who are now so hated by the Kurd, Shia and moderate Sunni communities whose men, women and kids they have tortured, slaughtered and mutilated.

As the American people sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, they will see a New Orleans heading comfortably back to its corrupt old ways and a fast-stabilizing and democratic Iraq. They won't forget the false alarms and hysteria that told them a different story, and will head for the exits.

Before these two disasters, a friend of mine in Big MSM was predicting an annual viewer/reader decline of 3% based purely on the multiple information sources now available - now I'm estimating 10%.