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Public’s New Digital Thumbs Gouge ABC News Debate

The Public Journalism or Civic Journalism movement started 20 years ago and grew out of repulsion to the sleaze and trivia of that 1988 Presidential election. Back then it was a few lone voices like Jay Rosen, Buzz Merritt and Cole Campbell who tried to wake up the news media folks about their errant ways.

If the ABC News Presidential Primary debate debacle had happened back then, people like David Brooks and George Stephanopoulos with their now totally neanderthal view of quality news and information, would have had the megaphone and totally trumped any criticism and put the Public Journalism people on the defensive. The movement had the right ideas, but lacked the DNA to make them heard and happen. In a figurative sense public journalism lacked the equivalent of thumbs. But alas it has the thumbs now.

In 2004 I wrote:

The new weblog-infused DNA makes public journalism more nimble and provides it with figurative set of thumbs. It allows public journalism to grasp and do things impossible in the old public journalism… We want to ensure that the … spin doctors do not control our elections..

I do believe if there are any spin doctors out there today thinking like Brooks did in his New York Times column, they are in big trouble. Brooks wrote:

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues. 

This week, some 20 years after the first protests about this inane, neanderthal type of journalism, the spin doctors, Stephanopoulos and Brooks have learned that the people have their own megaphones and that the once struggling public journalism has evolved into the public’s journalism and its new thumbs cannot only grasp, but when push comes to shove, they can gouge.

One Response to “Public’s New Digital Thumbs Gouge ABC News Debate”

  1. Grayson Says:

    Bless their hearts. As a southern granny would say, “They didn’t know no better.” I feel that the Charlies and Georges of the power-broadcast industry have been living in a MSM bubble so long now, they can’t even find the door out. This time around though, the American public will help show ‘em how to find it.