The sinking ship of mainstream journalism.

The Wentegate affair and much of the traditional media’s reaction to it really tell us something about the mainstream media.

Margaret Wente, who is documented to be a serial-plagiarist has already gotten defended by a few mainstream journalists (Jesse Brown with Maclean’s, Terence Corcoran and Dan Delmar of the National Post and even a Toronto Star boy Tim Harper). These people, as the superb Sixth Estate points out are defending plagiarism; they are rallying, in one way or another, behind a person who has plagiarised multiple times (without consequence).

The main defence, hopefully, comes out of ignorance. These people who defend Wente surely must not know the truth. Hopefully they were too lazy to spend the 10 minutes to go to the Media Culpa’s blog and see the accounts of plagiarism. Hopefully they’re not aware of these things.

Though, their reaction is telling. It does not matter if they’re aware or not. This is just the natural reaction for them to have. This is normal for the behemoth of which mainstream journalism is. 

These people are the Old Guard of news and journalism in Canada. They occupy our newspapers, they appear on the TV, they’re buddies with each other and they have (limited) access to the government and political players. They get the interviews with politicians. They get access to files. They get access to events. They tap glasses with each other, and are quite friendly I hear. There’s a reason they give cushy interviews with each other – they dare not threaten their positions.

They are their own class of people, and their privilege and power is one of the big reasons they can get away with plagiarism and laziness.

Many of them decry in outrage that mere “novice journalists” as Dan Delmar says, or “public editors” can influence papers and media. We are beyond accountability, they cry. How dare mere internet bloggers challenge us, they shout through their anachronistic medium. An ‘anonymous blogger’ they say with contempt. We have names, you don’t! they vainly say, grasping on to such a trivial matter to sooth themselves to sleep.

Mainstream journalists aren’t looking at this the way that many of us are looking at it. We may be looking at it as simple: this was plagiarism, this is a violation of journalistic integrity, action should be taken. They are looking at it at a direct challenge to their contrived and waning privilege and power. This is why they’re manning the cannons, tribalistically sharpening the sword when one of their buddies and class-allies is challenged. When the allegations got to the tipping point, they came out swinging – anything to delay their ultimate death. This is a war, to them – a class war.

A mere citizen and pleb presuming they can contribute to journalism?

The mainstream media is its own class, and when a member of that class-system is threatened (for good reasons or not), it’s understandable that the rest come in defence like a bunch of trained sheep. It’s in their self-interest to maintain their ostentation of authority. The reality is, sadly for them, that they are a contrived sham maintaining their lifestyle of laziness merely on perpetuation.

Yet, thanks to the power of the internet, mere bloggers and “novice journalists” are doing the job that paid-journalists are supposed to do – and for free! This scares their boots right off. Can’t they know their place? Be passive! they mutter to themselves. No matter how useless and pathetic many of our mainstream figures our, it doesn’t matter. They want to maintain what they have. The better-off ones like the money. If someone is willing to do what I do for free, what does that say about me? some may fathom. If concerned citizens produce better content than paid journalists, that brings in to fundamental questions of the role of mainstream Canadia media – questions they would rather be left untouched.

Print-media is a sinking ship, and they know it. They know their fall is inevitable, and their latching on to Wente’s leg and never letting go is a desperate move from a bunch of pampered people who fear their well-fed lifestyle may be gone. Don’t question us. Let us be – it’s worked for us for so long! they mutter in their sleep and in their 500-word limited columns, and 500-word limited brains.

Mainstream journalism is not about the public interest, and I’m not quite sure when this was not the case in history. Mainstream journalism is about that class of people submitting their largely mediocre work to be printed, then to be read, then to be accepted as the best we can have. But as we all know, it is not the best we can have. Bloggers have done better – bloggers do do better. Our collective superiority, ideally, will be the downfall of the Old Guard.

In the meantime, they continue to print their drivel. Not because out of some idealistic means to inform the readership, but to fool the readership into thinking that their medium and authority is permanent and unquestionable. Things aren’t going to change internally, because it’s against their own interest to.

Leave us alone! they roar to the heavens. God will not answer, to their dismay.

If this is a war to them, then let us continue to fight.