Arthur Sulzberger seems to be making a lot of news on blogs of late. Apparently, he went and said that he doesn’t care if the New York Times is even printing in five years. Well, anyone who reads Jarvis is probably laughing collectively right now. We all knew it would eventually happen, but it’s funny to hear Sulzberger sort of righteously indignant about it.
It’s also very easy to pick that quote out of the interview so you can frame your piece as “Newspapers are going DOWN!” While that frame might be an interesting one, it’s a bit played out. The “us against them” mentality has to be tossed aside so that actual news can start being the focus of the major collective efforts of bloggers everywhere. It’s very hard to do that. Believe me, I know. But continuing down the road that has kept the other medium that blows (talk radio) afloat throughout the past decade and a half is not the way that the “new media” ought to be heading. I thought this movement was about innovation, not wrestling power from an old, dying beast.
Inevitably, the conversation turned to blogs. Sulzberger immediately decided that the best course of action he could take would be the same course recently taken by Reno City Councilman Dave Aiazzi (read the comments): diss them:
“We are curators, curators of news. People don’t click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust.”
He said this while dismissing the Jayson Blair scandal. Now, I’m very reluctant to pull that Blair card when a newspaper bigwig starts talking down to blogs and bloggers. It’s one example. Sample size, you know. And certainly bloggers can be a part of that same problem. For instance, locally blogs are getting a bad rap from at least one politician because an unaccountable, anonymous fool posted lies about him on a blog. And got popular because of it! Sure, the community eventually set the record straight, but the damage was done. That politician, who should be embracing the power of blogs right about now, doesn’t trust us (it’s also a larger issue for another day with him). But for the publisher of the New York Times to in one paragraph tell us that they belong as the overseers of all things news and in the next to wave off a major scandal about made-up news at his own paper, I think that card deserves to be pulled.
The use of the word “curators” is also an interesting one. Does he mean to imply that either the Times (or other newspaper people) ought to be the managers of the news? Right. Because news is something that ought to be screened by someone with authority and approved before the world can see it. I get it. And only those included in Sulzberger’s implication have that authority.
Joking aside, it’s a very unfortunate statement. We have an elite viewpoint from someone whose monopoly on information is quickly being broken down. Like other revolutions throughout history, none of us little people who are actually changing things are going to give a damn whether Sulzberger and the rest of the curators live or die through this. They did, after all, bring it on themselves.