The Locker Room

July 22, 2008

The changing news business

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 8:41 PM

Jonathan Alter might be displaying some evidence of sour grapes as he describes in his latest Newsweek column the declining role of mainstream media. But he does make an interesting point about the future of news:

Like Thomas Paine and the ideological pamphleteers who provoked the American Revolution, bloggers help enliven and expand public debate. They are indispensable aggregators of political news.

But we're finding this works better for keeping on top of daily flaps than for learning genuinely new information. Bloggers rarely pick up the phone or go interview the middle-level bureaucrats who know the good stuff. It's a lot easier to chew over breaking stories and bash old media. Where do they get the information with which to bash? Often from, ahem, newspapers.

Which are shriveling this year. Talk is cheap and reporting is expensive. Anyone can sit at home pontificating in PJs (I've done it myself), but it costs nearly $1.5 million a year for a bureau in Baghdad. As newspapers lay off hundreds of reporters in the face of assaults on their classified advertising by the likes of Craigslist, who will actually dig for the news? A few sites (e.g., are getting into the game. But eventually, Google and other search engines will have to form consortiums to subsidize the gathering of news. Otherwise there won't be anything worth searching for.

Didn't some wise sage write something once about the Founders being bloggers? Regardless, people interested in Alter's topic will likely enjoy the podcast of Program No. 269 of Carolina Journal Radio, in which Jon Ham discusses the current state of the news business.

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Will points to danger of 'corporate conservatism'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 8:28 PM

Conservatives (actually classical liberals) value free markets. That's why George Will uses his latest Newsweek column to highlight an interesting development:

Today, the "social safety net"—a phrase that originally described aid for widows and orphans—is being radically enlarged to provide security for investors in large financial institutions. This enlargement is being improvised by conservative Republicans whose only doctrine is the theory of TBTF. The theory is that this or that institution is too big to (be allowed to) fail.

Will says the doctrine has interesting political implications:

Today's conservative corporatism of the Republican administration might "work," meaning it might minimize the duration of, and damage from, the current crisis. It is, however, complicating McCain's task of depicting Obama as a reckless enlarger of government. McCain is losing recourse to conservatism's core message about the rationality of governmental minimalism that allows markets to inflict their rigors.

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To revisit the surge debate or not?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:36 PM

As veterans rallied outside the Legislative Building today in support of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, I noticed with interest this blurb from Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online.

Goldberg warns McCain's supporters against placing too much emphasis on McCain's support for the troop surge in Iraq:

McCain was right about the surge and Obama was wrong. Period, full stop.

But so what? McCain already crushes Obama on the question(s) of who's got better foreign policy judgment/who's more qualified to be commander-in-chief. If McCain's supporters convince America that Obama was wrong on the surge or get him to admit it, McCain's advantage on that front will go up a couple more points.


While McCain's supporters are taking a bow for scoring a few debater's points, the surge's success in the real world makes voting for Obama seem less risky. Obama doesn't have to persuade Americans he's better than McCain on the commander-in-chief test, he just needs to persuade Americans he's minimally qualified to be commander-in-chief. The electorate wants to vote Democratic. It wants the war to be over (though it doesn't want to feel like it was a waste either). The surge's success enables voters to feel comfortable voting for the riskier candidate.

Read the rest of the linked entry to learn Goldberg's ideas for helping McCain emphasize his foreign policy bona fides. And link here for musings on Goldberg's Liberal Fascism.

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Agence France-Presse outdoes the AP and Reuters

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:27 PM

The Anglo alliance of news photographers have gotten in a rut of merely taking phony halo photos of Sen. Barack Obama (especially using the Obama logo as the backdrop).

AFP takes the messianic comparisons up a notch to the far more blatant, New York Magazine level:

How's that for symbolism? Obama, Jesus and (swoon) Ché!

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Lawmakers heading to the Big Easy

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:42 PM

I highlight this "Under the Dome" blog entry primarily because of the musical reference in its title, but the discussion of House Speaker Joe Hackney's impending installation as a National Conference of State Legislatures officer also gives me a chance to link you back to Hackney's post-session news conference Friday.

(If you didn't spend your weekend glued to the Locker Room, you might have missed it.)

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How about debating the health benefits?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:54 PM

Amid new developments in the trial pitting North Carolina against the Tennessee Valley Authority, it's important to remember that the Tar Heel State is basing its arguments on bogus health claims

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Senator highlights affiliation of 'Rush's climatologist'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:50 PM

Rush Limbaugh mentioned during his show this afternoon that Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., mentioned his name during a Senate committee meeting today.

Boxer noted that committee witness Roy Spencer has been dubbed "official climatologist of the EIB [Limbaugh's Excellence in Broadcasting] Network." From the actuality played during Limbaugh's program, it appears Boxer attempted to use the information to downplay the validity of Spencer's testimony.

You'll have a chance soon to make up your own mind about Spencer's arguments. He'll speak Sept. 16 at a John Locke Foundation Headliner luncheon in Raleigh. 

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Transparency in business

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:07 PM

Jonathan Salem Baskin, suggests that transparency is "the real corporate responsibility." His essay in Advertising Age is skeptical of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and green marketing:

Maybe the opportunity isn't to gloss over or distract but rather to communicate and make transparent the real activities and trade-offs within our businesses. Let customers know what they're buying and why. Make the cases for what we do and figure out how to tell them what's involved. It might be lots harder than hiring an agency to avoid it, but they're going to find out via the internet anyway.

Glad to see someone who knows his Friedman.

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In loco parentis

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 09:28 AM

Congress is once again stepping in to shield college students from their own bad decisions.

"Credit card companies beware: Congress is watching.

A flurry of bills is in the works in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would rein in how those companies do business. One proposed change that's triggered interest among lawmakers, particularly as the economy sours, would make it harder for college students to qualify for credit cards."

Before blaming credit cards, perhaps congress should look a little closer to home. As I detailed in a recent Clarion Call, it's far easier to abuse student loans than credit cards.

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Spend, spend, spend.....

Posted by George Leef at 08:14 AM

Professor William Shughart discusses here the recent federal spending binge.

I especially like his rejoinder to the "don't worry -- we only owe it to ourselves" line that the spendaholics use when people point out that the federal debt is skyrocketing: federal spending diverts resources from other, more useful things. As Milton Friedman used to point out, the burden of government isn't what it taxes, but what it spends. We'd have much more productivity and more people gainfully employed now if it weren't for the massive expansion of government over the last 40 years.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:32 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' story of a new report that shows emissions reductions in North Carolina would do nothing to reduce regional or global climate change.

John Hood's Daily Journal explodes myths connected to the "Coastal Plan" for homeowners' insurance. 

Linkable Entry

Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 06:29 AM

• After plans to give Kay Hagan a speaking slot at the state broadcasters' convention in Asheville fall through, Elizabeth Dole addresses the gathering on broadcasting policy, energy, and other issues. Political analyst Charlie Cook includes the Dole-Hagan race in his latest write-up of Senate campaigns to watch. The Civitas Institute releases a new poll putting the race at 47-38.

• Campaigning in Greenville, Beverly Perdue says that “we need to move beyond all the tests” in education reform and endorses initiatives to make it easier for teacher assistants and professionals without education degrees to become teachers. Record-breaking fundraising for the Republican Governors Association so far this year may be a boon to Pat McCrory's campaign, reports the Politico.

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