Sunday, August 07, 2005

Submarine Rescue: The MSM / Blog Contrast

-Originally posted at The Noonz Wire-

One of the interesting things I noticed while following and writing about the submarine rescue story is that while the traditional mainstream media did provide coverage, it was sorely lacking compared to what was being delivered by bloggers.

Now you might say that this is really nothing new, as bloggers, both Left and Right, have dedicated enormous amounts of energy championing stories that they feel the MSM has ignored. But therein lies the difference: usually the blog/MSM disconnect is political in nature.

The submarine rescue was a pure human interest story. No political motivations were driving bloggers in this case. Instead, genuine interest in and concern for the trapped sailors were the motivating factors. At Ultraquiet No More, for example, the contributors are diverse, ranging from liberal to libertarian. You would never know it based on their coverage of these events. And judging from the amount of traffic going to them and others who continue to cover the story, such as Gateway Pundit, Chapomatic, and Smash, there are a lot of people who were interested in knowing the details surrounding this.

So why was this weekend's coverage from mainstream outlets such as the cable news nets so lacking? I suppose that it could be that since this was more of a Russian problem, the decision-makers felt that it wouldn't generate much buzz with an American audience. If I remember correctly, however, when the USS San Francisco grounding occured, there was not much cable TV coverage of that either, and those were Americans who found themselves in dire circumstances.

With weekends being generally slow, newswise, I was even more surprised that the nets didn't pre-empt a lot of their taped programming to instead go with live panel discussions, etc. It's not as if Fox, CNN , and MSNBC lack the resources to get informed people on the air to analyze the situation. As Russia reached out for help, you had British and American teams racing against the clock to get on station to help with the rescue. There's your "local" angle, and there were plenty of others that the story could have been approached from, ranging from the political (Russia asking NATO for help post-Kursk) to the personal/emotional (imagine the horror of knowing you are trapped, your air supply is dwindling, and you are not able to do anything about it but wait and pray).

A relatively average cable news weekend filled with rehashed analyses of older stories could have been jump-started if the nets gave more attention to what was happening in Russia. The information was clearly there: just look at the level of detail in the bloggers' accounts.

I'm very happy that the blogs were so successful in delivering information about this story to the people. Ultraquiet, for example, is getting some well-deserved recognition from big guns Instapundit and Michelle Malkin. What's disappointing is that for people who don't read blogs and instead get their info from the newspaper or television, their exposure to these dramatic events will be probably limited to an AP/Reuters/Knight-Ridder roundup picked up by the local paper or a brief video package on the local evening news.

That's too bad, because this story is the kind of thing people write books and make movies about down the line.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger SiberianLight said...

I have to agree that the MSM coverage - or what I've seen of it on the internet anyway - has been sorely lacking. Especially I found that, although there were plenty of reports coming out of Russia from the various news agencies, the only people putting it all together into coherent stories were us bloggers.

Having said that, over here in the UK, it was heartening to notice that the story was fairly comprehensively covered on the BBC News bulletin that I watched. Although it was only the third spot on the bulletin itself, it was only knocked off the top spot by two pretty major local stories - the unexpected death of a very senior politician (Robin Cook) and the news that someone had been charged for the Underground bombings.


At 2:14 PM, Blogger Scott Kirwin said...

I couldn't believe that while we were waiting for the sub to surface last night here on the East Coast, FNC had Cal Thomas droning on about something or other. So I spent the time flipping between here, MOSnews and Interfax.

Clearly, you guys ruled this story - providing information and analysis that the MSM thinks is its birthright.

Score yet another one for the bloggers.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger David said...

I think you're right--the problem with the MSM isn't just the political bias; it's the almost total lack of imagination and vision as to what audiences would actually like to read or watch.

In the case of TV networks, I suspect their coverage is also very skewed by the degree to which video footage is likely to be available--in this case, probably not much, since it was a secure Russian military area, and I doubt the government would have been allowing many on-camera interviews with fearful family members.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger jeff said...

My opinion - the Russians should have leaked that one of the sailors was a cute, blond, 18 y/o female... and that this was a civilian research vehicle, not a mini-sub/bathyscape full of members of the military.


Post a Comment

<< Home