James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles’ undercover videos revealing the scandal of ACORN, with over a million views on YouTube, are a testament to the escalating dominance of new media.
At Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) 40th Anniversary Conference on October 23rd, a New Media and the Future of Journalism panel discussed recent technology in the media and the social media movement.
Panelist Robert Bluey, after graduating from journalism school, envisioned that he would get a job at the Washington Post; that dream died when he discovered that such organizations did not covet a conservative voice. Instead, Bluey’s job path led him to become an avid conservative blogger and Director of Online Strategy at the Heritage Foundation. Finding blogging to be a powerful forum, he explained at the AIM Conference “how bloggers could have an impact on the public policy debate,” suggesting that any blogger could expose secret documents or salacious political activities. People will follow a blog if they find that it is based on truth, said Bluey, but urged writers to “please, stick to the facts.” Bloggers and activists do not need to be in Washington, he said, but can cover local-level stories in the community, such as an “ACORN in your city.”
J.P. Freire, Associate Editor of Commentary at the Washington Examiner, helped to organize the first TEA party protest in D.C. There, he saw firsthand that average citizens who do not typically participate in politics are becoming activists, he said, adding that he felt a more active citizenry is good for democracy. Americans are beginning to notice the lack of truth in the press, he argued, and so “they are going to seek it out themselves.”
Freire called the rise of Limbaugh and talk radio a sign of this “progression towards decentralization” of the media and information sources. People are starting to show up at their town halls and make their voices heard on the web, said Freire.
Freire also claimed that the Obama Administration’s attack against Fox was because of Fox’s fact-checking, and that the Administration was criticizing “the one network that is actually doing its job.” In effect, he said, Obama has been making his enemy list public.
The panel discussed new media but the question remains: what will happen with old types of media? Freire admitted that newspapers—printing out and delivering a paper copy rather than using the internet—“are horribly inefficient.”
Fear not, though, because Freire asserted that “there will always be a market” for journalists. However, if “hard investigative journalism” is going to survive, capitalism (and panelist Danny Glover, Accuracy in Media’s online communications strategist) suggest that it must be funded. When asked how advertisers will be replaced in the new media market, Bluey said that the role will be filled by nonprofits and donors. Cliff Kincaid suggested to the panel that Rush Limbaugh, instead of attempting to buy ownership in an NFL team, should give money to journalists to further the causes which Rush so animatedly discusses on his show.