Monday, May 29, 2006

Brokaw & Co., revisited

Tom Brokaw, Wikipedia
Reading a piece about Tom Brokaw and the media, nearly 10 years after I published it, I now feel the landscape has improved to a degree.

At least two factors account for more political balance these days. One is the influence of what you are reading right now. Internet publishing.  People were not blogging 10 years ago, but their influence (though not mine) applied significant pressures for accurate and fair reporting in the years since I published the Brokaw piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Bloggers unraveled the Mary Mapes scandal at CBS, upon which Dan Rather based his hopelessly-flawed reporting of George W. Bush's military service. It was bloggers that broke the story about those bogus documents, not mainstream media.

Of course, there are legions of bloggers leaning right, center and left, working to flesh out facts and stories that "professional" journalists miss, or ignore. That's a good thing for anyone who champions accuracy and fairness in reporting.

Another major reason the landscape has become more balanced, is the surge in conservative talk radio and alternative news and commentary on cable TV.  Why has conservative media proliferated? Simple economics.

There was a palpable demand for conservative vantage points in mainstream media. People who control programming are in it to make money. They saw a market that was ignored and capitalized upon it.  Key point: that market was ignored.