Nov 07 2010
By now, the idea that blogs and mainstream media create a more complete media ecosystem is well established amongst bloggers.
But, it’s still frighteningly absent in the minds of most journalists.
Now don’t get me wrong – journalists will let bloggers make their own research easier by sorting through thousands of documents, digging into stories that don’t get play in the MSM, and pulling interesting blog threads into the big leagues when the story merits it.
But that doesn’t mean that journos think of themselves as part of the same information system as bloggers. By and large, journalists have been focused on saving their own dying newsrooms, which means protection, stonewalling, and entrenchment.
The scary thing is that mainstream press exposure still pushes so much of the context and nuance of a topic. This was apparent in this past Monday’s Op-Ed page of the New York Times. David Brooks wrote (presciently, given that the election was not even concluded) about how the Republicans would move their economic agenda forward once they took the House.
In that column, Brooks does his readers a disservice – not because he is wrong on the facts – but instead because he is wrong in the context and nuance.
Brooks mischaracterized the new health care law provision requiring businesses to file a 1099 form for purchases over $600. Here’s the passage:
The new health care law has a provision that forces companies to file a 1099 form to the I.R.S. every time they pay more than $600 a year for goods or services from any individual or corporation. If you’re a freelancer and you buy a laptop from an Apple store, you have to file a 1099. If you spend more than $600 per year with FedEx, you have to file a 1099. Republicans are going to make this an early target (for repeal) — an example of the law’s expensive interference in business life.
All of these facts are true – there is a new law. But, it is unlikely that his readers know that this new provision will take effect in 2012, but before it does, another law takes effect in 2011. That law will exempt credit card purchases from this type of 1099 reporting.
Therefore, buying a laptop from the Apple Store would place no additional burden on the freelancer, provided they use a credit card for that purchase (when was the last time anyone you know used cash or a check for a purchase totaling $600?).
There are literally hundreds of articles online that discuss how these two regulations go hand-in-hand. Brooks’s piece grossly overstates the burden this will have on small businesses and freelancers, and unfairly legitimizes the point of view that this section of the recent health care needs to be repealed.
For journalists to thrive in the digital age, they need to be able to use the blogosphere for research, yet still be able to get complete, quality information. Otherwise, already-shaky trust of the media will continue to erode, even as we continue to build greater trust in bloggers.
Personally, I get more than 90% of my news from the blogosphere. How credible is your news consumption? And where is it from? Let me know below.