The afternoon breakout session at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York is "Covering the "Click-ocracy": Tracking the Internet's Impact on Politics and Journalism". This is a fascinating view of the media's interaction with the New Media. I'm not sure anybody really has this figured out, but it's fascinating to see reporter's perspectives on how the internet is affecting their job, their profession and our information.
One thing really stood out, though. A reporter referred to "Media Matters...and their lesser counterparts on the Right." Note the word "lesser". I'd bet that this is probably not an uncommon opinion within the media.
New as it may be, the Left's media criticism infrastructure (Media Matters, but much more than just that) is already more effective than that of the Right. The institutions of the Right have failed to evolve, while, as they've done in so many other areas, the Left hasn't just built online infrastructure to compete with the Right....they have built equivalent infrastructure that surpasses the Right.
I think there are a four main reasons for this:
- The Left's media criticisms are fresher, more relevant to the current media landscape, and to structural political problems they face.
- The Left is addressing issues of media competence, not just ideology (e.g., "that liberal media"). This makes much of their criticism harder to dismiss as pure ideological bulldozing.
- The Left's media infrastructure is collaborative.
- They focus on inserting themselves into the news cycle, maximizing their daily relevance to reporters, bloggers and activists.
- They provide material specifically relevant to the Left's most prominent activists, increasing distribution of their content.
- They tap into the work already being done by activists and bloggers, ensuring they remain aligned with, and a part of, their audience and political movement.
- The Left's media criticism infrastructure is built for Web 2.0. They're not just trying to re-purpose battleships for guerrilla warfare - they're building for the current fights and in the current landscape. They are very effective at using blogs, petitions, email lists, alerts and other tools that make them better at distribution and targeting online.