The politically blogging world is all over CBS's sniping at political bloggers for not being "neutral" and worse that some of them took money from people or causes they supported. My initial response to this was "Doh", my second response is "so ___ing what!". The best response is undoubtedly Iowahawk's satire. The contempt that drips out of the original, plus the fact that they like slipstreaming in changes, indicates that CBS really has a grasp on reallity similar to that of British General Haig in WW1.
The VodkaPundit notes that similar contempt is evinced by sports reporters who seem to think that it is impossible for those who write to them to be right more than 1% of the time.
It occurs to me that the same or similar pooh-poohing occured four or five years ago when the Internet bubble produced investment websites such as the Motley Fool and other amateur newsletters. Well guys, the amateurs may have got caught up in the excitement too but on TMF I recall all sorts of warnings - heck I made a few myself - that I somehow failed to see in the general press recycling of the Blodget, Meaker etc pumping of dotcoms.
Journalists and pundits of all sorts are really, really threatened by the Internet and their prefered strategy is therefore to try and minimise the credibility of the threat. It isn't going to work.
The Internet Expert
What was clear from TMF boards five years ago - where at one point we had Tony Li making posts discussing Cisco's routing strategy - is the same that we saw more recently with Dr Newcomer's CBS debunking, namely that experts are just people too. On the internet experts tend to browse and comment on things that interest them and they frequently get really upset with apparently clueless hacks who fail to understand their subject matter. On a message board they can post clarifications when people misinterpret what they say, they can educate people and they can make comments that others can expand on to make it clearer for the less knowledgeable. The result is that the truth comes out - fast - in a way that any one can understand.
Also, and here I include myself, studious amateurs can make important contributions. Stock market analysts and financial journalists work under time pressure and editorial limits on length whereas the amateurs can take their time to dig in the details of a particular company or industry and publish the lot including the footnotes. The result is that the amateur frequently gives a far better research report even though he may not have access to all the same primary sources and that means that his reaction to new events and announcements is likely to be more accurate. The same amateur stock market analysis also applies to bloggers such as Wretchard's Belmont Club or the folks at Winds of Change when it comes to geopolitical strategy and analysis. Of course they will make mistakes, but so, demonstrably, do the published pundits and with the bloggers at least you get to see the links to their source material.
The Disintermediation of Journalists
Since the internet provides subject matter experts and the potential for detailed publishing of their thoughts is it any wonder that journalists feel threatened? Blogs are proving, in many ways to be doing the same to the mainstream media that amazon did to retailing. I talked about this a bit before, but I think it is worth revisiting. Of course not all journalists and publishers are threatened, in this way it is not the same as the motor car's assault on the horse, but there is now competition where previously there was none. Bloggers can and do upset the existing relationship because the force journalists to bring more value to their work. Basic reporting of events is not sufficient, unless the events occur in far off places, nor is analysis that is facile or condescending. The LA Times' investigation of a local hospital is something that bloggers and other internet experts cannot do, it is a job for professionals who have the time and resources to work the story. But the Iraqi Armour story is one where the journalist probably doesn't add much value other than frotthing emotion, sure the journalist got Rumsfeld on the defensive, but did the story actually add much to the knowledge of world about the amount of uparmouring or did it make it more likely to happen faster? probably no to both.