Thursday, March 26, 2009

R U Scrtry of State? ROFL

"Remember the media?", your children and grandchildren may one day ask each other. "They were the parasitic middlemen who stopped the government telling us exactly what was actually happening. ALL HAIL THE HYPNOTOAD."

The problem for politicians has always been that, without media, they had no way of telling the people what they wanted them to know. It's no surprise that, whenever there is a coup or revolution, the first places rebels take over are the television and radio stations and newspapers. These days, as the Herald knows as well as anyone, the very role of traditional media is being challenged, as the internet and other mobile technologies increasingly mean that the government can communicate directly with (potential) voters. So it is surprising to see an AP article in the Herald positively fawning over the US State department's increasing 'cyberspace' presence.

According to the article, there is a cornucopia of information that people can now get online, without the messy necessity of 'journalists' 'asking questions'. There is:
  • The official State department website
  • The 'Dipnote' blog on diplomatic affairs
  • An "interactive" map of Secretary Clinton's travels
  • You can keep up, if you must, with happenings on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Youtube
  • A "text the secretary" hotline, which apparently has received 2000 text messages ("wr r u now LOL")
Apparently, State's Facebook friends have more than doubled since Obama came to office, even though a lot of world leaders still aren't on Facebook, and Ahmedinejad keeps ignoring Clinton's friend requests. "New media is critical in this new era of diplomacy, where smart power and expanded dialogues are essential to achieving our foreign policy goals," said Cheryl Mills, Clinton's longtime confidante and chief of staff. Yes, 'expanded dialogues' are right up there between 'cruise missiles' and 'daisy cutters'.

But that's not the point. The point is that, however crap the Herald may be at conveying what is important, the worst thing it does is when it just regurgitates government press releases and sound bites. Quite what critical commentary one is supposed to get from Hillary Clinton's Twitter I do not know. But when a traditional media outlet, and one that sees itself as New Zealand's 'paper of record', prints an article so lacking in any reflection - there is literally no mention of this whole issue - about an issue that directly threatens their role in society... well, maybe they're not doing their job very well at all. Just get all your news from Facebook instead - personally, I've always wanted to know whether Hillary saw herself as a ninja or a pirate.

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