Amateur Reporters

Amateur reporters are getting their day in the sun.

23 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey, for the last 8 years, I have had to learn what was happening in my own country from foreign sources.

    It was unpaid blogger Sam Stein who asked a pertinent question about Senator Leahy wanting to set-up a post-Apartheid style Truth and Reconciliation committee.

    You want to know who asked the "catz R cute" question? Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post. He asked, "What do you think of Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids when he was with [the sports team] Texas Rangers?"

    Yes, it's professional reporting like that that has stopped me from buying an LA Times since their lie-a-thon December 15, 2002, issue.

    The LA Times: We publish Nooz t.m.

  • Hey, with most reporters not doing their jobs and asking the serious questions… and the reporters who do getting ignored… We need more ordinary people to ask the tough questions.

  • No doubt, mainstream newspapers suck in many, many ways. But the solution is new and better papers. Unpaid bloggers can't, for example, travel to and report from war zones.

  • Ted, that's not fair. After all, Iraqi and Gazan bloggers have brought out a lot of news from Iraq and Gaza. Of course, they live there.

  • Yeah, that steroid question really matters, huh? BTW, wasn't Tintin a great journalist?? Dorme bene…

  • More and more often, unpaid bloggers actually live in, as well as report from war zones.

    The problem with mainstream journalism has always been the getting paid part. Once people start getting paycheques, they start covering their asses. At that point the system becomes unreliable.

  • The Reverend Mr. Smith
    February 12, 2009 5:39 PM

    The President looked at me! It was almost as great as getting a Playstation 3!

    Idiocracy. I thought it would take a few more years.

  • Thomas Daulton
    February 12, 2009 8:09 PM

    Point taken, for certain. And it is no doubt darkly ironic that the Huffington Post always gets held up as an example of professional journalism when they don't pay anyone anything.

    But new and better papers don't seem to be on the horizon.

    And the subtle implication that the only people doing good work are the ones getting paid for it, is strange coming from an ex-"Processed World"-er like yourself…

  • it is harder and harder to make this point as the venerable daily's commit a slow suicide.

    Also, Ted, I am shocked week after week to find you are no longer in Citybeat!

    Has Craig said anything about how he is killing weekly papers?

  • Ted, there you go again with your fetish for yesterday's news printed on dirty second-hand paper (interestingly enough, one type of corporation you seem to adore). Others have commented on what that real press did at the prez love-a-thon. I have to ask: was Jayson Blair a blogger? Was Judith Miller? Were all bloggers lying in unison about WMDs?
    And let's not lionize journalists of the past, either. There's always the likes of Walter Duranty to remember.

  • Ted, your persistent aversion to blogging and bloggers makes you look cantankerous and, more than anything, antiquated.

  • John Madziarczyk
    February 13, 2009 3:31 AM

    I love that the cub reporter asking the question is Tin-Tin. It also captures the naivety of the typical Huffington Post blogger. I could see some of them doing a Tin-Tin in the Belgian Congo type story. No joke.

  • homeless where the heart is
    February 13, 2009 4:50 AM

    I dunno, I think bloggers could someday do the war zone reporting too. There are plenty of guys going as tourists to Afghan post-2001 for shits and giggles…there're a few Western reporters(but could've easily been bloggers) who snuck past Russian roadblocks into Chechnya, plenty of flickr albums of Kashmir taken by kids on gap year, and some terrifyingly ballsy guys(kids, really) have even done Somalia independently. The BBC just published a photo essay by a white dude who stayed at a Karen rebel camp in Burma. The world's small. Isn't it more a matter of getting the guys already going there to report while they're at it?

    Also, I gotta say this cartoon would have struck me better if the first commenter wasn't dead-on. Who's gonna be more likely to ask Barry about his Afghan War? Youtube commenters, or the mainstream mediocre?

  • How about focusing on the substance of Stein's question? He may have asked the best one of the night. I guess it's more important to jealously whine about it, though…

  • Cartoons don't allow for nuance. Thus this space.

    1. I think newspapers are case studies in squandered opportunity. They are bloated, lazy, and credulous beyond belief, especially when some government propagandist is mouthing off.

    2. I think blogs are really, really interesting and democratic and cool, and I read a lot of them, and would miss them terribly were they to go away.

    3. In no way, shape, or form, can unpaid bloggers devote the time or energy or professionalism required to research, report, edit and factcheck their writing to the extent that they can effectively replace the highly imperfect print media model. That argument, that it doesn't matter whether there's a newspaper reporter in Helmand Province because some backpacker can blog about it, is what I'm arguing against.

  • I think this is a false dichotomy, Ted. Inclusion of a serious, vetted blogger isn't the cause of the decline of newspapers and print reporters.

    The Bush years demonstrated how badly we needed alternative media like HP. Presidential press conferences can and should respond to a mix of media — television, radio, print, and now internet. Each has their place.

    Ultimately, it's up to newspapers and their reporters to save themselves. They can do that whether or not bloggers are given a place at the table.

    So far, they don't seem to be willing to do what it takes to become relevant again, though. And I don't think that has anything to do with Huffington Post.

  • "…1. I think newspapers are case studies in squandered opportunity. They are bloated, lazy, and credulous beyond belief, especially when some government propagandist is mouthing off."

    – Ted Rall

    When your're on deadline and you have to hammer out 1000 words, the prefab fabrications of an BS-apparatchik really help…I just wish they would dig deeper, but that's the responsability of the editor to push the writers into becoming little I.F. Stones, and most of these hacks have abdicated that part of the job. A lot of this credulity springs from the Reagan era, where it was felt that the press had "gone too far" in nailing Nixon, coupled with the general whoring out of the press in the 1990s. It's going to take a lot of work to make the American Fourth Estate worthy of the name.

    – Strelnikov

  • Journalistic "professionalism" seems mostly to take the form of deference to official sources. It's a façade, a house of cards. I learned "journalism" in junior high school, and I am not convinced there is anything to it that can not be mastered by a literate 13-year-old.

    The Huffington Post can't afford to send an intern to Iraq to live in a hotel and go to Army press conferences every day. So fucking what.

  • This is true. Life in America as we knew it before the Bush Experiment is over. Buying guns and stocking up on canned goods won't guarantee anything other than Internet-wise nosy neighbors storming your house to take your stuff so they can feed their pet-children dogs and cats. Eventually, the USA will exactly resemble Australia at the end of the 1958 movie, "On the Beach." If you haven't seen it, rent or buy or steal it, folks. Because that's what is coming. Some of us grew up believing some nut would ignite a nuclear war. Well, that never happened for mysterious reasons. However, a civilization-killer in the form of an infinitely incompetent MORON, George Fucking Bush, catalyzed the beginning of the end. We proved that we don't deserve to continue as a Democracy or Super Power or even a fair-to-middlin' free society. Evil, yes, EVIL, is just another word for Bush. We let it happen. Another four-letter word, GORE, allowed it to happen. Gore sold out. Apparently, when Gore was a reporter in Vietnam, he didn't smell enough death to fight the evil Bush Experiment.
    So, yeah, Tedster, this cartoon ought to be the last, or next to last, in stating what is happening and what is destined to happen in the USA. We are ALL going to die, soon. Thank you Bush parents, Bush himself and his lovely Stepford Wife, Laura, the spoiled-cunt twins, and every brainless, religious yahoo Bush Base Citizen who super-glued themselves to the Old Testament, the American Flag, Yellow Ribbons and our Murdered Constitution. If you haven't read about the downfall of previous civilizations, look around you now. This is it. Oh, yeah. In case anyone hasn't noticed, the price of gas is inching up again. Dick Cheney needs to go hunting with himself. Semper fi.

  • As a person with a long time in print and radio journalism, I agree with Ted. Even though I also agree with the estimate of what capitalist (sorry to have to use the word) journalism produces.

    Soviet style state capitalism included. We do indeed have to have specialization. But let's not solve that with 1000 BC methods like the so-called free market.

    BTW never, even though i was a member of IRE (investigative reporters and editors) and the SPJ (society of PROFESSIONAL journalists) did I accept that journalists ARE professionals.

    Professionals are peer-moderated, pick their own clients and have well-established professional standards.

    Journalists in a capitalist or a state-capitalist society are just hired hands. Your professional code is whatever keeps your paycheck coming in and gets your editor to submit your stories for awards and pad your resume.

    The "problems" of citizen journalism, filtering, determining accuracy, etc. are tied to the fact that we have to do our activities or starve (for most of us) so a handful of people can live a life completely disconnected from material constraints

    peer-journalism could work as well as scientific research and if it were, it would ironically be more professional than what we have now.

    The one point Ted has to pay more attention to, though, is the current wave of disinterest in dead trees. the next generations don't like it much.

    I am currently at a dead-tree-factory following its readership into the cemetery. This is not a model we can sustain.

    I would hope for temporary magnetized ink papers, hemp instead of wood pulp, etc. and taking it out of the hands of bloated business.

  • Dijo Delgado:
    Soviet style state capitalism included. We do indeed have to have specialization. But let's not solve that with 1000 BC methods like the so-called free market.

    Funny, I thought socialist orthodoxy held that socialism was the unspoiled, idyllic state of existence of primitive societies.
    Free market is just an abbreviation for free exchange of goods and services, you know. To be against that is tantamount to be for totalitariansim.

  • Marion Delgado
    February 15, 2009 6:37 PM

    For some commenters here, reading one of Ted's comics must be like a dog having a card trick explained to it, as Bill Hicks said in another context.

  • Oh, such wit, Mr Delgado!

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