Monday, March 07, 2005

Michael Hiltzik of The L.A. Times Responds

I was pleasantly surprised to have an e-mail exchange today with Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times. In this post just below I critiqued Mr. Hiltzik's piece appearing today in the Times. I believe his e-mails and my responses speak for themselves:

My post made this comment:

Newspapers, the movies (maybe especially the movies!) and major booksellers are characterized by barriers to entry. An elite and demonstrably out of touch class runs all of those outlets for expression and opinion. Hiltzik seems to understand blogging more than the average old media writer, but he's still missing the biggest part of the story.
Michael Hiltzik responded:

Dear Lowell,

Speaking as another fan of Isaiah Berlin and as a reader of a fairly wide range of blogs, right, left, big, little, good, bad, PG, XXX, you name it, I don't find a speck of evidence that blogs as a group are any more or less elite or more or less in touch or out of touch than any other means of self-expression, or even corporate expression. What's the point of making a distinction between blogs and "old media"? Old media includes radical publications and reactionary ones, free neighborhood throwaways and the Robb Report. Plus, it's hardly true that blogging doesn't involve a barrier to entry: you have to have access to a computer, to be sufficiently well-educated to grasp the rudiments of posting (even if not HTML as such), and, generally to afford an internet connection, whether dialup or broadband.

One thing you can say about blogs is that there are lots of them, and more every day. You can't say that the profile of the blogosphere, measured any way you wish, looks any different from the rest of the society--or rather,m you can, but you can't muster any evidence for it. And even if you do think it's different, can you define the difference? I've never seen anyone do so.

Best regards,

Michael Hiltzik
It is noteworthy that I did not contact Michael; he somehow learned of my blogging about his article and responded on his own. My response to him:

OK, Michael, color me impressed. I thought about e-mailing you about your story but didn't think you'd respond. (So color me a little sheepish too.)

Your points are very fair, although I continue to believe that the lack of a "gatekeeper" makes the blogosphere a much more ideologically diverse place than the L.A. Times or Paramount Pictures. That's not a value judgment, just an observation.

That said, what I really love about blogging is that you and I are having this discussion at all. I really enjoyed your piece and will be watching for others from you. And unless you object strenuously I'll post your e-mail on my blog.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.


Lowell C. Brown
Michael's response? "Go right ahead."

So here you have it. I think Mr. Hiltzik "gets it," he just doesn't buy it.

What do you all say?

UPDATE: Thanks to the InstaPundit for causing an "Instalanche" on this post.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly right.

To which I'll add only this:

Mr. Hiltzik isn't "buy(ing) it" inasmuchas he doesn't see a conspiracy, or at the very least, he sees equal amounts of collusion at both large media affairs (dailies, studios), as well as small one's (Web logs).

But that's exactly the point. Leave aside the charges of circles within circles - there doesn't need to be an evil, over-riding intent to the collusion. There's no one at to conspire with.

As many more authors and web log pundits than I can properly name without ommission right now continue to point out - the bias is the old media is institutional.

They're an institution, hence their institutionalism. I mean, my god, what's not to get?


Posted by Art Wellesley

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hiltzik writes: "You can't say that the profile of the blogosphere, measured any way you wish, looks any different from the rest of the society...." Assuming this is true, I would interpret this as evidence that there indeed are no (or few) barriers to entry in blogging. In contrast, in areas that do look different from society at large (which arguably would include the newspaper and movie industries), these differences presumably indicate the presence of barriers to entry that prevent "non-elites" from participating. 

Posted by Brian Silverman

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the "Old Media" certainly does contain a vast spectrum of opinions they aren’t always accessible. That is the difference between New Media and Old Media. Accessibility. The aspect of accessibility that is contrary to Mr. Hiltzik’s thoughts is exemplified by a Seventy-something lady I know who doesn’t own a phone, but everyday goes to the local library and goes online. She does HTML coding for a charity and is completely self-taught. I’ve exchanged email with her where she has thought that she might look into getting a e-blogger site ( for free), but feels that she is just too busy.

The key then would be literacy. In that the Old Media, referring specifically to broadcast, does have an edge over the blogosphere…one does not have to be literate nor even remotely intelligent in order to watch Dan, Peter or Brian.


Posted by Quilly_Mammoth

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precisiely, Mr. Mammoth - You don't need to be Glenn Reynolds to get your comments known to the world, as your example demonstrates - no one sifts thru her (your 70 yr old)comments IOT decide if it's going to be one of the 5 letters that they deem worthy of publishing that day.


Posted by Art Wellesley

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say this . 

Posted by Gerry

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that Mr. Hiltzik has correctly pointed out a barrier to entry into blogging, but a modest one that excludes precious few folks. (Heck, in my town even the destitute can blog at the library. Yes, yes, they need to be able to click a mouse and find Heavens, but these rudimentary skills are not much of a barrier, are they?)

He obscures the larger point, however. The MSM prevents intrusions into their Official POV, and it runs unopposed, save for Fox. It is thus indistinguishable from a state-run broadcast in socialist nation. It is  old because it used to control the Message, but no longer does so. Hence,the comparison between the Old Media, controlled by a priestly elite Who Know What's Good For Us, and bloggers, who are little more than pamphleteers as yet, is slim at best.

It's like comparing Warren Buffett to a guy who stocks shelves at Wal Mart by saying, "well, they're both males with earned income". 

Posted by Kevin Fleming

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 4:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No problem. PS- I fixed your typo and waxed your reply that pointed out your typo :-)


Posted by Gerry

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 5:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hiltzik is in denial -- of Leftist Bias in the MSM. If it was true that there was no Left bias, he might be right. If Leftist bias exists, as I am certain it does, then the 'the point of making a distinction between blogs and "old media" ' becomes clear.
To correct the bias. Like the LAT bias.
Left MSM said: Kerry was a war hero. Iraq is a quagmire. Rather has a true story against Bush. Jordan's slander is not a story.
Anti-Left blogs said: Kerry lied about Christmas in Cambodia, failed to sign Form 180, not a hero.
Iraq shows good progress, not paradise. Rather LIED. Jordan LIED.

The right blogs have more influence than the Left blogs because the NYT/ LAT/ TV News already have hacks attacking Bush and highlighting anything negative they can find about any Reps. The vacuum of criticism against the Left, occupied but not filled by Rush, is being filled by blogs -- because the LAT is too biased to do its job.

When it loses enough ads and subscribers, maybe its owners will push its editors to hire pro-life folk who go to church weekly and vote Rep -- and add diversity to its pages. What folk read from your blogroll, for instance, is FAR different that what the LAT sends out in the email each day.
(I'd be interested if you think my blog is interesting to you, or not.) 

Posted by Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 7:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a recent email exchange with a reporter about obvious mistakes in a story about Bush's ANG service. The reporter agreed to attempt a correction in the online version. This led me to observe that the old C. P. Snow Two Cultures meme was alive and well in U.S. media. Some TV network news have military analysts on call. Local stations and networks would benefit from having a retired military person available to vet factual material. Since they already draw retired pay, the cost would be about that of a tyro or beat reporter. There would be a cost benefit in credibility as opposed to credibility destroying reportage that quotes a USAF "First Master Sergeant in Bush's 147th Division." 

Posted by Billy Hank

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 8:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is not whether some reporter "gets" the blogs or not, nor is it whether bias permeates the MSM. The time is past when the "great powers" of the media have things all their own way.

Just like the Big Three automakers woke up in the '70's to the fact that the Japanese were capable of eating their lunch, and the TV networks realized in the '90's that cable and satellite were capable of taking millions of viewers away every single day, so to the MSM has belatedly come to realize, however dimly,that they no longer control the playing field the way they could before.

My children, and their children, turn to computers and the Internet the same way my generation opened a newspaper or went to the yellow pages. The world has turned over. Just like a real life "Hab Theory", the center of gravity has shifted, thrown Humpty off the wall, and all the networks' horses and MSM men can't put their former dominance together again. 

Posted by veryretired

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The MSM prevents intrusions into their Official POV, and it runs unopposed, save for Fox. "

Which has its own official POV. I don't want to get into a pissing war about the "liberal" media, but I do want to make the observation that Fox is as much a part of the mainstream media as any other network.

They may have a different POV politically, but that's the equivalent of having the same model car with a different color paint job. 

Posted by Rick Ellis

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 8:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Hiltzik : "it's hardly true that blogging doesn't involve a barrier to entry "

The only barriers to entry (for blogs) are desire, ability and access, barriers that are common to many activities. The basic technology of blogging is so simple that anyone with sufficient desire can easilly obtain the skills required (assuming literacy). And Access is available at any public library. So please explain again how this equates with an industry that either requires other people to first hire then actually publish your oppinions or requires you to have millions to invest (a la Rupert Murdoch) to publish it yourself?

Creating equivalancies where none exists is often a sure sign of denial. 

Posted by submandave

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that there are “barriers to entry” for everything in life. However, having recently read Hugh Hewitt's Book "Blog", I think his salient point is appropriate here:

Bloggers don't need to convince someone to let them try to convince someone.


Posted by Greg Patton

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick Ellis,

Granted that Fox has a point of view and it may indeed by considered part of the MSM. The difference is that it is just about the only part of MSM that has a POV that is different. In addition you will find the old MSM going out of its way to say that Fox is biased but they are not. That is not something that Fox does. It makes a big difference in that by the attitude of the old MSM Fox is not a part of the pack regardless of whether you or I might think it is or not.

While you are pontificating about it, take a look at the way that the DU group treat what Fox broadcasts. They automatically discount it because it is on Fox. Whether it is true or not does not matter. If it is on Fox it is automatically wrong. While those of us on the other side of the aisle may think almost the same of the old MSM, we at least look for the info that will either prove it wrong or agree with it.

Bloggers are needed for this alone. The old MSM is not very good at self-correcting; in fact it goes out of its way not to self-correct. Bloggers on the other hand by their very nature self-correct either on the same website by agreeing that they were caught out by another blogger or finding it themselves. They also do not let other bloggers get away with much. The good point of having a Glenn Reynolds acting as a sort of switchman as he does is that he does a pretty good job of directing to most of the different points of view out there. Sometimes he comments, sometimes he just points to where info is. Where in the old MSM do you find that function occurring. 

Posted by dick

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 1:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberals are not into self-correction at all. They are into self-congratulations.

It seems that whether they be journalists, artists, politicians, whatever, they are more into a closed worldview. They make a big deal out of their self-congratulatory "awards" shows.

Come on, Leonardo diCaprio? an Oscar over Jim Caviezel?

Jimmy Carter, Yasser Arafat? a Nobel "Peace" "prize"?

the Pulitzer "prize" is named for the father of yellow journalism. "you provide the picture, I'll provide the war..."

It is like they are all in a large circle, pants around their ankles, "Kiss the a$$ to your left..." "We are all so SMART!!" Circular a$$kissing

Blogs are such a threat to their little world. 

Posted by JoeS

Tuesday, March 08, 2005 8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I was out of town during the "Instalanche" yesterday and did not get a chance to respond. Excellent thoughts from everyone. I'll blog some more about all this. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Wednesday, March 09, 2005 8:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media & Entertainment

Hollywood Conservative Proudly Proclaims:
There Are More Than Three of Us...Really!
by Cheryl Felicia Rhoads
Posted Mar 25, 2005

For 20 years I have been an actress and writer in Hollywood. I wrote guest columns, worked phone banks and walked precincts for the re-election of President Bush. I eagerly traveled to Washington for his second Inauguration. Then, at various festivities, upon informing fellow conservatives that I was from Hollywood, I was often greeted with, "A conservative in Hollywood? There must be only three of you." (Or six, but this bemused assertion never reached double digits.)

This presumption is just not true, however. Like other minority groups, conservatives in show business have steadily been coming out of the closet. But let's be honest, a million men won't march down Sunset Boulevard chanting, "Down with Michael Moore, we say out loud . . . we voted for George W. Bush, and we are proud!" The latter, however, isn't really necessary or even desirable. It is not that we need to indulge in a left vs. right war as artists. The point is that we have sought to be truly honest craftsmen, while also being allowed to enjoy a diversity of opinion without retribution.

Yet it is still important for those in the conservative movement itself to understand and appreciate that many in Hollywood share their revulsion for the ranting of Cameron Diaz, Whoopie Goldberg and Chevy Chase. And now, for a variety of reasons, not only conservatives, but also libertarians and non-leftists in the entertainment industry are broadening the artistic spectrum in Hollywood.

There are celebrities like Kelsey Grammar of television's "Frasier" who hosted an inaugural salute to the troops in Washington. Gary Sinise of television's "CSI: NY" and the hit movie Apollo 13 participated as well. (Sinise has also been active in building schools for Iraqi children.) Former "Law & Order" star Angie Harmon spoke at the Republican National Convention, while comedian Dennis Miller has aggressively supported Bush to the dismay of some fans of the former "Saturday Night Live" star.

The list goes on. Behind the cameras there are those like writer and director Lionel Chetwynd, who countered Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 with the more factually accurate Celsius 41.11. Political pundit Dick Morris presented yet another film disputing Moore's theories with Farenhype 9/11. The latter was co-produced by celebrity Ron Silver, who is not strictly a conservative or even a Republican. But the actor describes himself as a lifelong Democrat of the Truman mold. Silver broke with Democrats over the War on Terrorism and made a passionate speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention. On a lighter note, David Zucker, director of Airplane, produced an anti-Kerry, pro-Bush commercial during election season.

Some celebrities are open about their "otherness" by Hollywood's political standards. But there are groups and events that encourage those emerging writers and actors who don't yet have the safety of stardom or prestigious credits to share their conservative ideology.

Conceived the morning after the 1992 elections, activist David Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club (WMC) blazed the trail. Horowitz brought a variety of authoritative speakers, mostly conservative, to the Beverly Hills gatherings. Horowitz's group provided a needed balance to those who had been bombarded by the pontificating of those in the Barbara Streisand crowd. The WMC has long been a solo port in the Hollywood storm, an oasis that provided intellectual diversity. Now other outlets also serve as a healing balm to conservatives on the left coast.

The grassroots Hollywood Congress of Republicans (HCR) and a chapter of the California Congress of Republicans formed in 2001. HCR is a welcome haven to many actors, writers and others affiliated with the entertainment industry. It also has guest speakers who discuss their common goals.

Radio hosts Dennis Prager and Larry Elder both promoted a revue of comedians billed as The Right Stuff. This group was the brainchild of Eric Peterofsky, a former staff writer on "Murphy Brown." I went to a local comedy club to see Peterofsky's show. Surrounded by conservative patrons enjoying hilarious conservative comedians was really a revelation for someone like me. The very existence of this show signaled the stars in heaven were mystically coming into alignment, even if some stars in Hollywood like Sean Penn may have felt a disturbance in "the Force."

Euphoria really set in the first weekend in October, however. I participated in the Liberty Film Festival in Beverly Hills, founded by director Jason Apuzzo and his wife, actress Govindini Murty. About 18 conservative films were showcased. We attended panels featuring people like actress Morgan Brittany, film critic Michael Medved, Hollywood, Interrupted author Andrew Breitbart and director David Zucker. The festival was preceded in Dallas by the American Film Renaissance Festival, founded by the husband and wife team of Jim and Ellen Hubbard. As a member of four entertainment unions that openly promoted activities, like those of, I was thrilled to be with a multitude of like-minded artists in Hollywood. Many of us felt we had come home.

Conservatives should know about this political "counter culture." More importantly, as artists, it is simply a good idea to broaden the dialogue. And it has been happening, slowly but surely over the years.

Contrary to many conservative's beliefs, Hollywood is not a political monolith. Many refuse to be intimidated by the "politically correct" in their industry anymore. It is essential, in order to be the artists we set out to be. Winston Churchill said, "Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time." His admonition is being heeded in the nick of time, not only for the sake of American culture, but also--due to Hollywood's influence--that of the world.

Ms. Rhoads is an actress and writer in Hollywood.


Posted by Cheryl Felicia Rhoads

Friday, March 25, 2005 4:25:00 PM  

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