The MSM And Iran

A reader writes:

I agree with your dissenting reader--you can't judge MSM coverage of Iran by the performance of cable news. Also, I disagree with your assessment of NPR's coverage. Their massively intelligent and knowledgeable Mideast expert Mike Shuster is in Tehran. As you would know if you had been able to listen, he has had a report or a two-way on every news show since before the voting started. There have also been phone interviews with Iranian citizens in Iran and some conversations with Iranian expats. I have also seen very useful stories from the AP and the NY Times.

The blogosphere (including The Dish--you guys have done admirable work) has, of course, worked faster on the story, and more stuff has been reported through blogs than in the msm. A lot of that stuff, however, amounts to rumor. Some of it is eventually confirmed, and some remains poorly sourced even though it looks like it should be true. It's valuable to see that stuff, but when I want to know what is actually known, i.e., reported by multiple eyewitness sources, I go to as many msm sources as I can find, and even then, I read the stories carefully.

That difference in the standard of reportability of information is still the main distinction between msm reporting and blog reporting. When the msm are criticised for anonymous sourcing or transcribing spin, the essential criticism is that they have not lived up to their own high standards of reportability. Blogs on the whole, no matter how good they are, do not hold themselves to the same standard (there are exceptions; I think Talking Points Memo tries to uphold that standard). The msm, having a stricter standard of reportability, will inevitably be slower and report fewer items--it takes time to check facts, get comments from the subjects of allegations, etc.--but in the end, (some of) the msm are going to be closer to deserving the 'first draft of history' kudos. I feel weird expounding on this all to you when you are a working journalist and I am merely a user of journalism. Nevertheless, as your other dissenter implied, blogs and msm are not really in the same category. One can praise one and appreciate the other.

I think this gets it right. I am publishing stuff that would not get past the MSM filter - but always in context and with the reliabilty of the information presented clearly. I figure one role a blog can play is just getting information out to people, giving them the tools to judge it for themselves, and airing legitimate debate on all of it. I am out of the loop, as I said, on TV coverage. I don't have a TV on the Cape. I think the main criticism from readers came in the early stages as the MSM seemed a little slow in understanding the scale of this story.