.rant|The Legacy Media Summit
Posted 16:20, EST | Input Return (0) | Warriors on the Mesa (0)
An AP piece published in the Sacramento Bee today tells us that the Presidents of NBC, CBS, and ABC are meeting in a sort of 'Old Media' summit to figure out what went wrong this Election Season with their coverage, and what to do about the explosion of New Media and the erosive effect that alternate outlets are having on their one-time monopoly of information. A brief fisking follows, along with some concluding thoughts.
The presidents of the three major television network news divisions were concerned about early election day exit polls that wrongly indicated Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was leading President Bush in several key battleground states.
But they also said the problem had been compounded when the exit polls, which were sponsored by a consortium of major news organizations including the Associated Press, were leaked onto the Internet. That, the presidents said Monday night, resulted in a widely publicized but ultimately incorrect expectation of how the election would ultimately turn out.
First of all, am I the only person who finds this entire meeting symbolic? Here we have the Presidents of the monolithic old media establishment meeting (in a Q&A format perhaps, but meeting all the same) in an effort to circle the wagons after an election cycle in which they got hammered for everything from forged documents to blatantly timed hit-pieces.
Secondly, notice the immediate transferral of blame for the inaccurate exit poll data? We're not 100 words into this article before it has become the Internet's fault that they botched it so badly. Yes, let's set the tone for the readers shall we so that the rest of this piece will be absorbed through the correct filters, ones which are sympathetic to the noble leaders of our legacy media and which frown upon 'ankle-biting' by the netarrazi. But wait, there's more...
"We're not happy that the exit polls, even in the first wave, were wrong," said NBC News president Neal Shapiro at a joint appearance of network news presidents at Stanford University. "We're all reviewing it, it should have been better. I think there were mistakes, some of which we're trying to figure out, and some of which we can't."
No, I'm sure you can't. You'd have to look past nearly a century's worth of built-in bias to see that what went so horribly wrong with the exit polls was the fallibility of the people administering them.
"There is an explosion in the number of news and quasi-news outlets and it goes into the Internet, it goes into broadband, streaming video, it's now on cell phones ... and those of us in network news have to recognize that," Westin said.
Notice the implication that bloggers and online news portals are not legitimate sources of information. See the framing of the debate occurring? It's the respectable, reliable old media outlets versus the rumor-mongering, unrestrained 'quasi-news' outlets. Never mind the fact that the entire reason we're having this discussion is that those new media outlets were better at fact-checking than your teams of professionals were. Or worse yet that those online portals were more honest about the facts.
"Technology is making it possible that the audience wants us to come to them, instead of making them coming to us which is traditionally what network news has done."
CNN has been offering 24 hour news for thirty years. The Internet has been delivering news on-demand for a decade. You're just now figuring this out? What kind of corporate president are you anyway? I have two words for you: You're Fired.
All three said their networks had set up investigative units to review any claims of voter fraud or problems with electronic voting technology this year, but that nothing significant had appeared anywhere to affect the election's outcome.
"A lot of the allegations we've looked into, they're just not true," Shapiro said. "Believe me, I'd love a juicy story about the election as much as anybody. Florida was a great story, but it's just not there this time."
Translation: 'Sorry Terry We couldn't deliver this one for you. I tried, I really did, but those bloggers would have fact-checked me right into a new job if I had drummed up some moon-bat conspiracy theory story in Ohio. Did you see what they did to 60 Minutes?! I mean damn!'
On Iraq, the three said that, in retrospect, they should have more aggressively questioned the Bush administration's grounds for invading Iraq in the spring of 2003.
"Simply stated, we let down the American people on weapons of mass destruction, and I sincerely regret that," Westin said.
Oh for the love of Murrow. First of all, you are not the fourth pillar of American government. You have been removed from that imaginary position by an American populace which no longer trusts you to be objective. Secondly, you believed Saddam had WMD just like everyone else. You want to talk about letting the American people down? How about we talk about the cone of silence you've erected around the Oil-for-Food scandal, or the way you turn and look the other way every time a new mass-grave is found in Iraq? Or how about the way you refuse to report on Russian and French cooperation with the Ba'athist regime in keeping their weapons program alive and ultimately in exporting the evidence to other mid-east countries? Where's your sincere regret for not being good stewards of those news stories?
And while the networks continue to commit enormous resources to reporting from the war zone, the presidents said conditions in the country have made it too difficult to do much groundbreaking reporting now.
Translation: 'Things are just going too good over there. It's Afghanistan all over again once you get outside the Sunni Triangle. Good news just isn't worth reporting unless it advances our agenda, and Allah knows a free and prosperous Iraq sure as hell doesn't.'
"I think it's important to look at this as in[sic] increasingly sumptuous smorgasbord of choices, and Fox started that." Heyward said. "It's very different from the comfortable oligopoly that prevailed at the beginning of broadcast news, where you had networks with enormous market share. I think that's to the public benefit. It puts more pressure on us to be excellent.
Ha-ha. You got that right, sucker. The days of your monopoly are over, and the pressure is on for you to be honest. How about before you start worrying about excellence, a concept you abandoned a generation ago when your oligarchy started the entire news-as-entertainment trend, you focus a little more on being fair and accurate. Stop championing causes and advancing political agendas under the guise of reporting, and maybe, just maybe, you'll find less resistance from the new media outlets. Sure you're still going to have to compete with them, but I'd wager that if you would just give up campaigning for your beloved transnationalist ideals and go back to dishing out unfiltered information you might stop getting your ass handed to you by the new media.
Because in the end, that's what this entire debate is really about. The Legacy Media outlets have no built in checks and balances to save them from their own ideologues. They are populated by reporters, editors and producers who cling to their liberal agendas with religious fervor, and the result is a monolithic message constantly filtered through a left-leaning lens. Accuracy and integrity are frequently sacrificed on the altar of ideals and there is no one in-house to correct matters before the stories hit the page, or go on the air.
What's more, with the ubiquity of the Internet and a host of alternate information sources at their disposal, the American populace has gotten a peek behind the curtain and seen that the little man pulling the strings is a fallible human being after all. Indeed they've come to realize that with the right resources they could do just what he does, and maybe do it better.
What scares these presidents of the media stone-age most however is the prospect of being on the losing end of a credibility gap. They have relinquished an enormous store of the public's trust this year, and much of that trust has been transferred to Internet media outlets outside of their control. It seems to me that the reason for this is clear: New Media has built-in checks and balances where Legacy Media does not. Online there is always another credible voice willing to correct or dispute. There are liberals to fact check the conservatives, and moderates to fact check devoted partisans. There is a perpetual exchange of ideas and information that by its very nature makes the Internet a more valuable, and inherently more credible, resource than the group-think infected news rooms of the major media networks. Komatsu Bulldozers spare parts catalog
If the presidents of ABC, CBS, and NBC really want to address the problems which are losing them so much market share, they should start by aggressively promoting ideological diversity within their networks and by emphasizing a return to journalistic integrity. Simply attacking the credibility of their new media rivals and looking for ways to increase their own exposure will not help solve their underlying problems, nor restore to them their former prestige.
UPDATE 17 NOV, 00:05 - Further thoughts on the 'media handwringing' over exit-polls by Patrick Ruffini, who has resumed blogging for himself now that he's done blogging for the President.
Professor Bainbridge also has more, pointing us to a piece by Michael Barone on just how badly the Legacy Media got hammered this campaign season. I watched Barone head up the Fox News election returns team this month and it left me with an enormous amount of respect for just how informed and intelligent he is. I remember sitting there thinking, 'Good God, this man is an elections machine.' Since then he's been on my 'must read' list, and should be on yours too. Michael Barone just plain gets it.
.rant|EA Games - "Ruin Everything"
Posted 11:09, EST | Input Return (0) | Warriors on the Mesa (0)
One of the things which I most appreciate and enjoy about our team on the Starsiege 2845 project is how aware our leadership, and indeed most of our members, are of the great fallacies and dysfunctions at work in the games industry today. The elaborate waste, ingrained stupidity, bureaucratic nonsense, dreadful mismanagement, IP dilution, employee abuse, poor production values, and lousy QA policies none of these unfortunate realities are lost on our team. As fans and artists we've watched with dismay as the industry has accepted a string of worst practices as a priori assumptions of the game development process - and we are collectively determined not to let the same things happen to us.
Therefore it comes as no surprise to any of us to read this account from an EA Widow who is having to cope with the human cost exacted on her husband by the publishing giant. They are in effect emptying him out of all his energy, talent, and love for the art of making games and are
willing to planning on discarding him like a wasted prophylactic product when they have sucked every last useful drop of effort from him they can manage. Witness the status-quo for too much of the gaming industry:
This crunch also differs from crunch time in a smaller studio in that it was not an emergency effort to save a project from failure. Every step of the way, the project remained on schedule. Crunching neither accelerated this nor slowed it down; its effect on the actual product was not measurable. The extended hours were deliberate and planned; the management knew what they were doing as they did it. The love of my life comes home late at night complaining of a headache that will not go away and a chronically upset stomach, and my happy supportive smile is running out.
No one works in the game industry unless they love what they do. No one on that team is interested in producing an inferior product. My heart bleeds for this team precisely BECAUSE they are brilliant, talented individuals out to create something great. They are and were more than willing to work hard for the success of the title. But that good will has only been met with abuse. Amazingly, Electronic Arts was listed #91 on Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" in 2003.
EA's attitude toward this -- which is actually a part of company policy, it now appears -- has been (in an anonymous quotation that I've heard repeated by multiple managers), "If they don't like it, they can work someplace else." Put up or shut up and leave: this is the core of EA's Human Resources policy.
Further on in the article she laments:
If I could get EA CEO Larry Probst on the phone, there are a few things I would ask him. "What's your salary?" would be merely a point of curiosity. The main thing I want to know is, Larry: you do realize what you're doing to your people, right? And you do realize that they ARE people, with physical limits, emotional lives, and families, right? Voices and talents and senses of humor and all that? That when you keep our husbands and wives and children in the office for ninety hours a week, sending them home exhausted and numb and frustrated with their lives, it's not just them you're hurting, but everyone around them, everyone who loves them? When you make your profit calculations and your cost analyses, you know that a great measure of that cost is being paid in raw human dignity, right?
The tragedy for this poor woman is that Larry probably does care. My experience with company executives is that they tend to be decent human beings, not acid-belching aliens bent on world domination. The problem is that Larry is no longer in control. The EA machine is running on auto-pilot, the parameters and boundaries of its dysfunction neatly defined by the requirements of its stock price. When a publicly held company reaches a certain size, a sort of critical mass, it begins to take on a life of its own. Process and paperwork begin to steer the daily activity of the company rather than principled and visionary leadership. When this occurs only the most strong willed and talented of CEOs can ever manage to save the soul of their company from the cancer of its all-too-necessary bureaucracy. payday loans online direct lenders
As a result, corporate malfeasance of this sort is very rarely the product of a malevolent will intent on grinding into powder the humanity of the people it abuses. More often it is instead a lack of volition on the part of the company executives that allows the situation to go unchecked. They are unwilling to exercise their conscience in contravention of the perceived necessities of a highly competitive marketplace. That their inaction or indecision is destroying the lives of human beings (who also happen to be valuable company resources when properly maintained) does not occur to them until it is too late to stop the runaway train.
EA, like many other major media enterprises, is now so deeply mired in its own habitual abuse of human resources (among other things) that it can no longer reform its practices without suffering critical damage to its profitability. So complete is the institutional derangement now that only blunt trauma can bring an end to its blundering rampage. That said trauma is now nearly inevitable, and will wind up hurting EA's bottom-line far more than a good HR policy would have, will serve as an ironic footnote to yet another tragic example of what happens when we let reports and committees run our businesses instead of principled leaders.