Libby’s indictment has been the topic of conversation for many journalists, not only because three of them were eyewitness to the crime (an extraordinary case, we are told), but also because the absence of a shield law exposes journalists in the future. A journalist’s sources are, after all, his/her asset value. But the scoop on Scooter that sent Judith Miller on a twelve week vacation behind bars (she bought her ticket) resonates elsewhere.
Bloggers have been a topic of conversation among many journalists recently for the potential threat they pose to conventional journalism. If the blogging world levels the playing field, and if the Web challenges the authority of print (read: and podcasting, radio; and iPods, TV?), then the natural response for journalists ought to be: protect your sources, guard your rolodex, and get those scoops!
Journalists are caught between a rock and a hard place. The internet has sped up the news. Speed shifts the value of news content from the argument to its arrival time, or timing. The internet has also affected authority, how it is earned, perceived, and where it counts. Look at your TV network news to see what’s happened to the authority of the news anchor. Funnily, even comedians have commented on the demise of a narrative joke, it’s having lost out to one-liners and observations.
Our media culture has gone from record to fast forward. There are so many voices talking that it’s not clear we can even call this conversation any longer. If the validity of reasoned argumentation loses to stylistics, or celebrity status, or memetic drive, then we could be in serious trouble. The legal system is supposed to represent a codification of a culture’s commonly-held values, and it’s testing one right now that involves talk, though not whether Libby committed the crime of outing an op, but of whether he perjured himself.
I feel like the Bill Joy of the blogosphere right now, because I feel as if we’re being overtaken by the public record of our own making. One day, not far away, there may not be a public sphere, because there won’t be a private sphere. “Have no fear, You can read it here.” ….