Anonymous painting of The Storming of the Bastille

The zeal of advocacy practiced by some in ‘new media’ is striking at times for an apparent lack of fair-mindedness. In some cases, it seems pretty clear an overt political campaign resembling trench warfare is being run under the guise of ‘news filtering’ or ‘commentary’ or blogging, among other things. Of course, mainstream media isn’t universally fair either. Advancing that argument (which I don’t) would truly be a hiding to nothing.

Further, some bloggers who themselves rely intensely on mainstream media (or parasitically, as discussed) appear to hold a giddily inflated view of the role of social media in ‘leading’ news these days. They point to examples where MSM journalists pick up on ‘stories’ or developments some of which emerge via social media … as if that is somehow akin to heralding the extinction of the dinosaurs.

A news organisation reporting what someone wrote on their Facebook wall doesn’t readily fit into my (utopian?) definition of news … I guess unless it’s Sarah Palin saying, ‘I still haven’t decided whether or not to run for President. Send me money to help me make up my mind.’ A tweet, even less so. (See ‘Is eavesdropping on Twitter really news?) But there are exceptions there, too — think Arab Spring.

Journos have always been like beachcombers, looking for leads wherever they might find them. That’s not new.

Others see the ‘battle’ between new media and MSM in generational terms — baby boomers in the ‘old’ media blocking the ambitions of Gen X & Y aspirants — grey-heads acting as gatekeepers, keeping the next generation ‘out of the game’ … or by not shuffling off to retirement swiftly enough.

I see it differently. (Surprise!) Taking those points in reverse order …

Those already working in the mainstream media are ‘in place’ because of earlier decisions they made to enter that industry, perhaps gaining training, professional qualifications and experience on the way, and ‘earning their stripes’. As I tried to say in my post New media – it’s not about being impartial I think the distinctions between ‘new media’ and whatever you want to call what existed before, are transitory. All-encompassing MEDIA will roll over and absorb it all. The divisions and barricades on which people in both ‘camps’ are spilling blood (metaphorically) will be a fly-spot on the wallpaper that is the history of civilization.

The internet has simultaneously changed everything … and absolutely nothing about human nature.

Just like the English language has, MEDIA will adopt, adapt, steal, invent, incorporate — absorb what it wants — from ‘new media’ and step up to the challenge of being relevant to today’s audience … with a few provisos from legacy, as I indicated:

The MSM will welcome or include passionate expression by ‘reasonable’ people [… ] but concerns about audience reaction to those whose personas are written off as monochrome, sometimes deceptive [...] militant attack dogs may see them have to wait a bit longer.

That’s enough with the raving, thanks Martyn

As if to prove that very point, news emerged yesterday that left wing attack dog Martyn Bradbury has been told he’s no longer welcome as a guest commentator on Radio New Zealand. That followed an extended partisan rant last week about Prime Minister John Key’s ill-mannered reaction to an attempted jumper at Parliament and Bradbury’s ‘suggestion’ that Key’s recent Prime Minister’s Hour slot on Radio LIVE was somehow corruptly linked to a time payment scheme for radio spectrum levies.

Martyn was speaking on Jim Mora’s radio show segment The Panel and his haranguing soapbox-style expression of ‘thoughts’ (reading one of his own blog posts! Boooo, hiss) were, apparently, deemed to have breached RNZ’s fairness and balance guidelines. Another factor was his bombastic refusal to pause for breath in his rant when the host, Jim Mora, tried to interject a comment … you know, as if it was, like, gee, a panel discussion?

Yes, harumph, that’s the very same show that Mad Butcher Peter Leitch used as a platform for his extraordinary political and personal endorsement of the same John Key. Interesting, huh? Will Martyn seek to change his name to ‘Martyr‘?

I don’t speak for Radio NZ (nor anyone else, actually) so I can’t be definitive about this, but it seems to me Martyn’s mistake was exactly what I recently warned another blogger about: indulging a ‘narcissistic ‘the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me’ loose cannon persona‘. My opinion: It’s just not how you get to be in a position of influence in the media. (Just sayin’.)

That’s why they call it progress

But back to the main point, in the same way that ‘pop music’ has moved from Beethoven & Mozart to flapper music to big band and marching band music to Broadway musicals to Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Blondie & Queen, Mariah & Britney to Lady Gaga & Katy Perry … as the audience composition changed … so will MSM. That’s evolution not revolution, despite the ‘Generation gap’ rhetoric, arguments and hopes to the contrary.

I’ve commented before about the dichotomy of bloggers pouring scorn on MSM, while dying to get a MSM gig … seeking mass media exposure. Some gain it, like David Farrar, because they tailor their message and style to the platform. Like most of us, Farrar is more than a blogger.

Update: I see David has shared the ‘approach’ (formula for success?) he takes to his own appearance the Jim Mora show, which reads like they could be straight from my ‘fair-minded and balanced’ hymnbook:

  • The show is a discussion, not a rant. Listeners are expecting a three way or four way (when we interview someone) discussion on topics.
  • I never prepare notes in advance. I will think about topics in my head but always just speak unscripted
  • I try to be relatively balanced. I’ve often been critical of the Government on a specific issue on the show. Of course as someone with centre-right views, this reflects what I say.
  • I try not to be too political. Many of the items I choose to talk about are not political. I talk about travel a lot! …

Read the rest at David Farrar’s blog. Of course he’s criticised from the right and the left a little like this:

Some don’t bother with social media except as an adjunct to their professional political advocacy, spin doctor, opinion polling/research, media strategist (cough) jobs.

Martyn Bradbury’s setback this week is instructive. Of course Radio NZ will be cast by some on the Left as the government’s poodle etc. yada yada yada.

Predictable teeth gnashing and hand wringing about ‘censorship’ will ensue. Who cares? Martyn Bradbury acted like a dick IMO, ranting and recycling his inflammatory blog ravings. He misjudged his MSM audience and the needs of the Radio NZ platform — and he got feedback about that: ‘Don’t bother coming back’

Hey, it’s RNZ’s show, their sensitivities, their balancing act, their big picture … and their rules.

- P