In Jared Polis episode, Denver Post discovers it’s not the monopoly it believes itself to be
March 4, 2009 —
They used to say, “Never get in a war of words with people who buy ink by the barrel.”
Now it’s a bit more complicated, something like, “Never get in a war of words with a website with high unique viewership and excellent search engine optimization capabilities.”
Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?
Either one still holds true for Jared Polis, U.S. representative for the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Vail. Polis is taking a beating from the Denver Post (and denverpost.com) for comments made Feb. 28 on the role of new media in the demise of the Rocky Mountain News (and the death of print media in general).
Mike Littwin and Vincent Carroll are the latest to join the mass beating on Polis, who has become the piņata of choice for Denver Post writers who want to take a swing at the ghosts of their own guilt about having good, union jobs when their old friends at the Rocky (who were formerly sworn enemies) don’t.
Dirty media tactics are in full swing here, and include Littwin, a former Rocky columnist, helping propagate the myth that Polis happily, proudly, credits himself with the fortunate demise of the Rocky Mountain News.
Former Rocky editorial page editor Carroll goes a step further, adding his own, imaginary giggles and laughter to the very selective Polis quotes he chooses to print.
It’s easy to see that Littwin, Carroll, reporter Karen Crummy and the rest of the Denver Post staff are apparently swelled to bursting with their new, self-perceived roll as the “only” media source in all of Colorado.
But they still have a lot to learn about new media.
While Carroll enjoys inserting his own giggles and laughter into Polis’ comments, perhaps he should do the more journalistic thing and provide a link to the actual audio of the event (available by clicking http://www.coloradopulse.org/netroots2.mp3 or by pasting the link into your quicktime player.).
In a Denver Post story by Crummy, the Post quotes him as saying: "I have to say, that when we say, 'Who killed the Rocky Mountain News,’ we're all part of it, for better or worse, and I argue it's mostly for the better.”
Yet in a telling sign of how well newspapers are adapting to the Internet, Crummy herself seems incapable of posting links to the actual audio … let alone providing readers with the entire original quote from Polis. In fact, she opens her story (not an opinion story) with the idea that Polis is giving “himself … credit for the ‘demise’ of traditional journalism.”
Taking it a step further, all these writers from the Post go on to make the claim, either latently or overtly, that online-only publications are incapable of providing the same kind of journalism offered by print publications.
As if somehow the process of cutting down thousands of trees, crushing them into pulp, spraying ink on the pulp, filling fossil-fuel-burning trucks with the pulp and delivering it to the doors of people who have already read what’s in there on the 'Net makes newspapers more legitimate?
What newspapers in Denver, Vail, and around the country are really burned about is that their revenues are tanking, and they haven’t found a way to keep the cash cow of classifieds and display ads alive online.
It will take some time for them to come to terms with the idea that media isn’t dying, it’s simply decentralizing. Big media is losing its monopoly on the news. That’s not to say major metro newspapers are all going to die, but it is to say that they will become less powerful as various sections of the newspaper (civics, travel, classifieds), break up like so many icebergs and float away.
In the meantime, online-only publications, step-by-step, are figuring out how to earn revenue on the 'Net, pay writers, and therefore provide good journalism.
Which means here at RealVail.com, I have no problem posting the link to the full audio of what my congressman said the other day and, since I don’t have to pay for ink by the barrel, I can post a transcript of the key portion of the quote.
Read it yourself and make up your own mind about what Polis is saying.
Polis: "So, The Rocky Mountain News published its last edition yesterday. And, I have to say, when we say who killed the Rocky Mountain News, we're all part of that, we truly are. For better or worse, and I argue that it's mostly for better … a lot of opportunities along the way. But, newspapers are dying; radio is dying, TV is becoming interactive, segmented, ever evolving, YouTube a very different nature of the beast. Media is dead, and long live new media, which is all of you. Really this is a new age of citizen journalism, which brings with it opportunity. And, I'm fundamentally an optimist. I really am. It's not without its challenges."
Is it just me, or is Polis REALLY saying that small, interactive websites with community input (sites like RealVail.com) are allowing readers to get a better picture of what’s happening, and to take part in what’s happening, rather than sitting idly by and relying solely on the big media conglomerates for their take on the news?
If all we had was the Post, we’d helplessly believe what Vincent Carroll believes: that Polis is the big, bad wolf, laughing and slapping his knee over all the jobs lost at the Rocky Mountain News.
And the irony of all ironies: since the Denver Post didn’t attend the event, where are they getting all their information about what Polis actually said?
A small Internet site.
Tom Boyd is a realvail writer whose work formerly appeared regularly in the Rocky Mountain News.
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