FCC Rules

After watching the FCC ownership rules hearing on C-Span, and listening to as much of the commentary by folks like KKK alumni Fritz Hollings and Trent Lott as I could stand, I came away with the belief that the uproar over these rule changes is groundless.

Lawrence Lessig said: “The FCC will liberate the networks to consolidate because the FCC feels pressured by the courts” and some other stuff, but the rules expressly forbid mergers or takeovers between the Big Four TV networks, so that’s clearly hooey. The big changes were easing of the limit on local stations a network can own (which brought existing ownership into compliance) and relaxation of the rule prohibiting newspapers, TV, and radio from being owned by the same company in the same market. ClearChannel doesn’t gain by the rules, and may have to shed some stations.

So if the opposition to these rules isn’t rational – and at least some of it isn’t (Susie “Medea” Benjamin, trust fund activist, got herself arrested again at the hearing), then what’s it based on? A lot of folks were comfortable with the way things were in America when TV news came from the three networks plus CNN, the same stories with the same liberal/centrist spin. Then along came Rupert Murdoch and we got the Fox News Channel, the New York Post, and the Fox Network, and the traditional liberal agenda got some competition. Fox isn’t always, or perhaps even often right, but it is a counterbalance and a different point of view.

The opponents of the rule change are scared that people like Murdoch will alter the media landscape at the level of local print news and broadcast news, an area still controlled by the liberal oligarchy. I hope they’re right, because I’d like to have a TV channel or a daily paper in the Frisco Bay Area with a centrist or right-wing orientation, and it certainly appears that we’d never get one under the old rules.

I don’t believe for a minute that opponents to these ownership rules from the left care about diversity of opinion, which is sure to be enhanced by allowing Murdoch to buy more media properties in more markets. More power to him.

End of the Bloggies

Michele, editor of a small victory, has withdrawn from the rigged and tainted Bloggie Awards:

There’s significant evidence that the voting is rigged. Judges themselves have stepped forward to say they got together with other judges to decide on who in their circle should win. One judge said that she didn’t bother to read the blogs she didn’t know and just voted for the ones she read regularly.

I am withdrawing my name from the ballots. They can give my place to someone else, or just leave it blank. I don’t care.

I’m totally impressed, and feel like she qualifies for the Lifetime Achievement Award in Integrity. If the others who were nominated who weren’t part of the circle jerk will kindly follow Michele’s lead, we can uncover the bad guys from who’s left.

The most glaring example of the unsavory nature of this competition can be seen by looking at the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the entire history of the blog, there have been exactly two people who qualify for this kind of recognition, Evan Williams (the Blogger guy) and Dave Winer, the longest running blogger, the original quality blogware producer, and the architect of the XML/RPC standard. Evan was awarded his sometime in the past, but Dave (whose contribution is actually greater than Evan’s) didn’t even make the finals, against such do-nothings as Rebecca Blood and Matt Haughey. Give me a break.

And any blog award that can’t find a nomination for Instapundit is ridiculous on its face.

I don’t say this because either of these guys is my buddy; I’ve never met them, and I trash both of them on a regular basis. But facts are facts.

Why blogs will win

— Implicit in the shrill anti-blog essays from Alex Beam and others in the Media Establishment is the sense that journalism is losing mindshare to blogs and other forms of new media. This isn’t just because blogs, the web, and high-tech are so all-fired wonderful. No, the backstory is the decline of journalism under MBA control, as Kathleen Parker explains in her column at

OrlandoSentinel.com: Opinion

Thanks in part to human resources personnel — those well-meaning, misguided individuals who view writers and editors as cogs in a well-oiled machine — newsrooms have lost their souls.

Parker writes from her home in South Carolina, so for her the newsroom is already a thing of the past. So don’t get the big-head, bloggers, it’s not so much that we’re winning as that the other side has given-up and is in full retreat. And what are they afraid of? Fun, mostly.

Technology meets punditry

— John Hiler’s piece on the interactions between blogs and traditional journalism (Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem – How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News) is the best thing I’ve seen so far on this subject. I was particularly struck by his account of the speed at which the false rumor propagated through the blogs about an ugly new EU flag that looked something like a bar code. 50 blogs picked up the story, but when it was exposed as a fiction, only 5 published corrections. The new flag design was simply a concept, and not one that anybody saluted.

Of course, we see that sort of thing all the time, and while we like to tell ourselves that blogs correct their errors faster and better than journalism, this doesn’t really happen. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on new blogging technologies (“Is Instapundit Over?“) which was reported by Instapundit himself as charging that he was indeed over. His claim was picked up by a dozen or so blogs, and when I challenged them one by one to show me where I’d said that, none of them could.

In a second episode of deception by the same person, now with a chip on his shoulder, an angry libertarian posted this comment on Ben Domenich’s blog in connection with a discussion of the teen sex epidemic: “Ben feels left out when people talk about teen sex, cause he wasn’t getting any!” As the misanthropic libber had been egged-on by Glenn Reynolds comparing himself to Clarence Thomas, I reacted with this play on his name: “‘DS’ apparently stands for “dumb shit”, given the nature of that last comment. Is Glenn Reynolds in favor of teen sex because he gets a lot of it?” Reynolds reported my remark out-of-context from the one I was reacting to, and even out-of-context from his own self-serving and inflammatory comment.

So now the rumor is wildly circulating among Instapundit-fed blogs that I’m saying poor, put-upon Glenn has a sexual fixation on teenagers, and that I hate breastfeeding and lesbians, beat my wife, shoot heroin, and all sorts of other things. Lies get out of hand easily, especially in Blogistan, but there’s generally a malignant force behind them grinding an axe of some sort. But back to the future, our topic.

Hiler believes the Blogoshpere will grow in influence as if becomes more automated:

The Blogosphere isn’t perfect, but it’s the most robust and diverse Media Ecosystem we have. As the mechanisms tying it together grow more and more automated, its collective power and influence will start to approach that of any single newspaper or magazine.

I have to agree with him, and toward that end I put the RoboPundit demonstration on this blog, in the left column. The stories in RoboPundit are harvested automatically from a variety of blogs with different slants, and presented without much editing. This technology lends itself to selection, comparison, cross-linking, and a variety of other forms of sifting that are no longer practical without automation. And these very refinements, which are beyond the scope of traditional journalism, will make blogs the premier vehicle for news and opinion in years to come.

Technology naturally scares those who have a vested interest in the status quo, but one way or another, it always wins out. While it’s been interesting to see traditional journos scream like stuck pigs over the advent of blogging, in the weeks and months to come we’re going to see traditional bloggers scream about the new technology as they sense their impending irrelevance. In fact, we already have.