NEW YORK -- Personal Democracy Forum -- It's the duty of the Internet and "new media" to move away from old media's biggest mistake -- telling both sides of the story, according to the co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post.
Publisher and talking head Arianna Huffington described new media as a mix of old and new wine in new bottles, essentially making the point that new media combines the working characteristics of old media with replacements for those that don't work.
problem with old media, Huffington said this morning, is the tendency to "present every story and every issue as if it has two sides."
"The earth is not flat, period. There is no other side to
this issue. Evolution is a fact -- sorry, Mike Huckabee, there is no other side to
this issue. The war in Iraq is an
unglorified catastrophe. As far as I'm concerned there is no other side to this
issue. So we present what's in Iraq
as a 'mixed bag' -- as if you go to a doctor who says 'you have a brain tumor, but your acne
is cleared.' It's a mixed bag of diagnosis."
In addition to stepping in with the "truth," said Huffington, new media can and must embody three other significant qualities to redress the failings of old media's past: accountability, community, and transparency.
Speaking to accountability, Huffington ridiculed old-media heads for their lack of fact checking and the unlikelihood that they are ever held accountable for their mistakes. "Lou Dobbs is supposed to be a journalist?" she said. "In a show he
did in 2007 he had one of his reporters say leprosy increased dramatically in the last three years and
attributed that to illegal immigrants. It turned out, 7,000 new cases of leprosy [occurred] in the last 30 years and
had nothing to do with illegal immigrants."
This is "where we need the OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] of new media as opposed to the ADD [attention deficit disorder] of old media."
Hailing the online community as one of the best gifts of new media, Huffington also noted that, due to human nature, community can pose a downside to new media when people hide behind anonymous personae to disrupt conversations.
Further, Huffington scoffed at the idea that journalists should be neutral -- describing old media as propagating what she calls "the illusion of neutrality."
"The worst part of traditional journalism is this pretense that somehow you have no opinions... this pretense that you're simply
reporting fact, so there's no opinion to be changed."
To be sure we were all aware of her opinions and, presumably, her idea of the "truth," Huffington concluded her session by asking the audience to "make sure the Trojan Horse of the Right, which I call John
McCain, does not get through the gates of the White House."
No "illusion of neutrality" there.
— Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Internet Evolution