Friday, March 16, 2007

Idea Man

I recently read a news account of a public figure speaking to a college audience about the new and old media, and I quote and paraphrase the article because the speaker's comments reflect my own view.

This will shock you, but the media sometimes get things wrong, he said.

He said Internet media like blogs and You Tube videos were opening new avenues of communication, but he said all media forms are starved for content.

“The tyranny of this chase for more and newer is encouraging people to cover things that would normally draw little or no attention,” Blogs and other new media forms have raised new concerns about journalistic standards, he said. “What standards are there on the Web, what accountability?”

Even in the media saturated world, the quality of the message is still more important than how it is dispersed, he said.

“Politics is about more than effective communication, it's about ideas. ... You've got to have something compelling to communicate. ... The masses are not asses, they will be figure it out. ... You can underestimate their interest, but if you underestimate their intelligence, you're making a big mistake.”

Bravo and hallelujah! In terms of news media, it is astounding that things that once were nothing and still are nothing become sensational news.

It took me a long time reporting politics to come to the same conclusion as the speaker that the American people are not that dumb, just inattentive. But when you can get their attention, they have a better record of making the right decisions than you or I or any individuals do.

And my additional experience pitching story ideas to the news media confirms that what you have to communicate is more important than how pretty the press release looks. Spin goes only so far, and you can really get away with it only once or twice before your audience catches on.

So, I am in complete accord with the speaker's assertion that "politics ... is about ideas."

But the speaker, Karl Rove, and his puppet in the White House have bad ideas and the masses are no longer fooled. It helps that their communications stink lately, their Justice Department factotums forgetting the very first rule of the Washington bureaucracy: "Never put anything on paper (or e-mail) that you don't mind seeing on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper."
The news account quoted above is from the Troy (AL) Messenger

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