Dan Lawton : Journalist

Congress Convenes on the Fate of Journalism: Arianna Huffington Throws Down Hard

Things got wild in D.C. today, as journalistic heavy hitters from across the country squared off in a new media vs. old media shoot out.  The session was highlighted by a saucy closing oration, during which blogging queen Arianna Huffington lambasted newspapers for engaging in the “futility of resistance”

The hearing, convened by Senator John Kerry, featured representatives from the Washington Post, the Dallas News and Google.  Kerry, who has expressed solidarity with  newspapers–especially the plight of the Boston Globe–led things off by welcoming attendees to “a brave new world” and quoting Joseph Pulitzer’s refrain, “Our republic and its press will rise and fall together.”

Maryland representative Ben Cardin (D) stumped for his recently proposed Newspaper Revitalization Bill, which would allow newspapers to receive 501 C-3 classification and the beefy tax breaks that accompany them(see past post on its flaws).

Former Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll struck a balanced tone by referring to the current state of journalism as “creative destruction.”  He complimented the innovation of online enterprise, but questioned if citizen journalists and bloggers could provide the same valuable public interest reporting as newspapers.

David Simon, a former journalist and producer of The Wire, was much more blunt.  He bashed blogging as “repetition, commentary and froth,” and content aggregation as leeching.  He laid much of the blame at the decision of newspapers to tie in with Wall-Street and “unencumbered capitalism”

However, his heated remarks were no match for Huffington.  In her thick Greek accent, the baroness of blog lacerated newspaper bosses for “putting content behind walled gardens,” “sticking their fingers in the dike” and “pretending the last 15 years didn’t happen.”

She stated her optimism that journalism would survive and flourish, but recommended that efforts be pulled away from saving newspapers and toward saving journalism.  She lauded the blogosphere for its ability to follow and hammer away at a story until it “breaks through the static,” and she excoriated the mainstream media for not doing its journalistic duty in covering the lead up to the Iraq War and the financial crisis. The news industry has had “far too many autopsies and not enough biopsies,” she said.

It was a rousing performance.  I didn’t agree with all it, but Huffington clearly has the spunk and tenacity necessary to transform a crisis into a period of innovation and growth.  Considering the pessimistic state of journalism, I’ll take it.

You can watch the video of the hearing here

One response to “Congress Convenes on the Fate of Journalism: Arianna Huffington Throws Down Hard”

  1. cab says:

    Go Arianna,

    she is kicking ass and taking names….about time newspapers got a kick in the teeth, what a waste of natural resources and ink, most of their rags and their “journalistic integrity” is better left for the paper i wipe with before I flush….

    …good riddance

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