Blog Power vs Media's Breathless Irrelevancies
The Downing Street Memo story provides an object lesson in
(a) skewed media coverage -- especially when compared with the Michael Jackson story -- and
(b) the competitive dynamics between blogs and mass media.
The Downing Street Memo is one of several high-level British documents which showed that the UK and the US created the Iraq war on fudged evidence, started it months before it was announced or approved, and gave little thought to the likely consequences.
How the Leaked Documents Questioning War Emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat' by Michael Smith in The Sunday Times UK explains the sequence of leaked documents in the Downing Street Memo story. Most interesting from an "evolving collective intelligence" perspective, is that it describes the story of how bloggers made these memos public in the U.S., where the mainstream press was ignoring this obviously newsworthy story.
Along these same lines, Arianna Huffington notes in Just Say Noruba the idea that, "blogs have become the news cycle's appeals court, and that the Downing Street Memo story is still alive because it won on appeal."
However, she also notes that the mass media have powerful antibodies to certain substantive news stories like this -- including their power to focus for many days, weeks or months on distractingly dramatic stories of celebrities like Michael Jackson or people whose fate is barely a ripple in the tsunami of world affairs, like Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba.
Huffington chronicles a disturbing pattern in the number of stories run on these three subjects -- Downing St., Jackson, and Holloway -- in the six primary news networks. For example, between May 1 and June 20, CBS News ran zero segments on "Downing Street Memo" -- compared to 70 on "Natalee Holloway" and 235 on "Michael Jackson". Hello?
We can wait and see who wins this media battle over whether we citizens get the vital information we need to make collectively intelligent democratic decisions. But this isn't a horse-race. We're talking about our fate and the fate of our communities, nations and world. Ultimately the success of things like blogs depends totally on us ordinary people...
So pass the word on....
posted by Tom Atlee on Monday June 27 2005
updated on Saturday September 24 2005
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