When Does the MSM Lose Its MS?

A lot of the criticism of the traditional (or mainstream) media in the last few years was one of unacknowledged bias and fear of dialogue. Social media, such as blogging and media sharing sites, were said to be the corrective for the MSM, as well as “citizen journalism.” But what happens when these giants of MSM start using blogging, comment fields, RSS, citizen journalists, Twitter and various other tools that were once thought of as the province of the new citizen media? Should it be acknowledged that they’ve learned and changed?

An interesting element in the results of my survey on the news media’s use of Twitter was the fact that he top answer to the question on how the organizations used Twitter was for News Delivery, at 43.5%. Dialogue with Readers was a distant second at 26.1%. So only a quarter of the respondents use this social media tool for its most prominent feature, and the one that might be considered the least “old media.”

Under the question about how many other Twitter accounts an organization followed, the top response, at 29.2% was Over 50 (!). A quick glance at the MSM Twitter accounts on I’m With the Press indicates the great unlikelihood that this is accurate. Randomly: CNN: 1. Spokesman-Review: 6. Times (London): 133. Times (Johannesberg): 0. Contra Costa Times: 0. Financial Times: 0. Radio New Zealand: 0.

Yea for those (like the Times of London) that do follow others’ updates, but boo to the rest. It’s not much of a lesson learned if you use social media but without any desire to find out what the big deal is. (Social media has the word “social” built right in.)

Use social media for promotion? Don’t mind if I do. But if that’s all you use it for, you’re stone cold MSM.

That is all.

Update: Huffington Post’s cofounder bragged about how he’s never going to pay his contributors, thus showing us how the “alternative” media can get its MS on. That’s always been my reservation about “citizen journalism” organizations. It’s very rare indeed that they don’t sell advertising, make business agreements with other for-profit companies and do various other types of revenue gathering. It’s rarer still that the people who give them both their information and their “alternative” cache get paid.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb. If you are reporting for someone else who is getting paid while you are not, you are a sucker.

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