Jackson Baker (Psst! Kibitzer) wrote an excellent piece for the edition of the Memphis Flyer that came out yesterday about the growing influence of bloggers on American politics today, and the few politicians that seem savvy enough to have noticed it. He was quite generous in not pointing out those politicians not quite tuned in enough to the age of the "New Media".
Perhaps not to be outdone, WMC ran a story about blogs on their 5 PM broadcast. They've apparently been liveblogging the John Ford trial (Couldn't tell you-- I've got more interesting things to read, like fortune cookies), and were so unprepared for the fact that (Gasp!) people read blogs that their servers were unable to deal with all the John Ford-related traffic and they had to shut down their servers.
They've missed out on one important thing, though--- Having your news reporters write an online article and slapping the name "blog" onto it doesn't really make it one. It's the same old story we've seen play out a million times before--- It's what happens when something relevant in pop culture is appropriated by corporate America and the corporate-controlled media. It happens when a manufacturer says it wants an edgy rock and roll song for a commercial and ends up with something that sounds like a lounge singer's rendition of "We Built This City" by Starship. It happens when a fast food joint has commercials featuring "Rap Cat".
And it happens when the mainstream press tries to appropriate blogging. For the one thing they cannot do is replicate the tone of a blog.
It's like trying to teach someone to sing with soul--- You either feel the music, or you do not. The informal voice of a blog has the same effect on a corporate media outlet that garlic has on a vampire, or any Timberlake song besides "Dick In a Box" has on me--- It sends them screaming from the room.
There are great blogs driven by media outlets--- Most notably Volunteer Voters and Nashville Is Talking. It's also important to note that rather than tell Ted Baxter "Write something for the web before you go to makeup", they hired experienced, established bloggers such as Adam Kleinheider and Brittney Gilbert and asked them to head up that part of the operation.
And two of my favorite bloggers write for the Memphis Flyer. The Flyer, of course, is anything but a corporate monolith (Indeed, to me, it seems the Flyer is the antidote to all that ails the corporate media), and Jackson Baker and Chris Davis know how to actually blog.
At the Commercial Appeal, Blake Fontenay certainly seems to have the hang of it-- But Wendi Thomas's articles are just as bad whether any trees are sacrificed to make them or not. Frankly, their efforts in the 2006 congressional race demonstrate that political coverage requires more heavy lifting than they're capable of.
The corporate media demonstrates to us daily why the "new media" exists. Their attempts at relevance to anyone under 40 come off about as "hip" as... Well, the word "hip".
I would like to praise WMC-TV, though. Their discovery that this blogging thing is "hip" is such a bold discovery that I can only compare it to Christopher Columbus--- Someone else that became quite famous by discovering something that millions of people already knew about.
I can hardly wait for tomorrow's bold story of the day--- We've been promised a story about how this porcelain thing makes all the doody whoosh away if you press the handle down. ***UPDATE: Jon Carroll, aka Memphis Blue, via email: "I vote for "cars, have they truly replaced horses?".
I for one cannot wait.