NYU's Jay Rosen schools the press on the 21st century's Worldwide hierarchy in his latest post at Press Think entitled "The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Appeal in News Judgment":
"News judgment used to be king. If the press ruled against you, you just weren't news. But if you weren't news how would anyone know enough about you to contest the ruling? Today, the World Wide Web is the sovereign force, and journalists live and work according to its rules."
Rosen examines how the British press, aided by left-leaning bloggers and the heroic efforts of Congressman John Conyers, were able to finally get America's mainstream media to recognize the importance of the Downing Street minutes which were leaked nearly a month-and-a-half ago (and more keep coming: Ten Briefcases Full!).
Although the entire article is worth reading (and reading again) I'd like to draw attention to one particular sentence from Jay Rosen's wonderful article:
"For if the news judgment of journalists is not final anymore, this only reminds us that it was never good enough to be as final as once it was."
To tell the truth, I'm not sure that there ever was an "as once it was" time but there's no doubt that the standards of the press have fallen in recent years. This hold true for both sides: the right and the left (and everyone else to the left and the right of the "established" sides).
No. The blogosphere will never replace the mainstream media. But what we can do is influence the press, criticize them when necessary, disprove them with research, and condemn them or belittle them when they just don't seem to get it.
There really isn't anything included in the Downing Street minutes which wasn't known years ago, but the press didn't do its job. They allowed the Bush Administration to "fix" facts and helped promote "wild-eyed" claims that had no basis in reality (such as threats about Iraq's nuclear capabilities which were at odds with the factual evidence provided by the work of United Nations weapons inspectors).
To willfully protect access, the press allowed the Bush Administration (and Blair's regime) to conflate the war on terrorism with what any reasonable person realizes is mostly just an effort to secure the oil fields in the Middle East (not just Iraq; we had to pull our troops out of Saudi Arabia, and we needed somewhere nearby to station them).
Is impeachment lurking in the horizon? I'm not sure.
But I have little doubt that the Bush Administration will soon be forced to reveal more details about why and when it really went to war and why - for instance - that was more important than concentrating on the capture of Osama bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda.
There probably isn't any chance that Bush (or Cheney or Rumsfeld) will be removed from office because of this...but that's not what impeachment is all about. Don't forget...Clinton was impeached though he retained the presidency.
The more we push this, the more that intrepid politicians such as Congressman Conyers demand answers, the more that the mainstream media reports on this: the higher the chances that impeachment proceedings will commence.
All Americans - those with blogs, those that only read blogs, and those that take the time to care about the political world - should have a voice on what constitutes news in this country. The corporate consolidation of most of our media has done a lot to muffle our voices, but citizen journalism can play a big role in getting the press to take notice.
This wasn't the first time nor will it be near the last. But it's the organization of many on the left-leaning side of the blogosphere that helped make this happen. The right side of the blogosphere has done a far better job in pushing their stories and promoting each other. For many reasons, we haven't.
If the top bloggers for the left won't work with us, then we need to work with those that will.
Together we have tremendous power. Separate we are doomed to flail in the wind.
Let that be the lesson: united we stand, divided we flail.