Monday, 8 August 2011

The Importance of "Legacy" Media in Telling It How It Is: The Case of The New York Times


On of the pleasures of being back in an almost-settled house is that we have more time to intersting things. Friends called yesterday to ask if we'd like to see Page One, the documentary movie about The New York Times, and for the first time in ages we could say, "yes."

The movie was interesting, if somewhat out of focus as it jumped from person to person, worry to worry. But it brought out the importance of having what one of the commentators called "legacy" media to help provide the context, background and analysis essential for making sense of the world. You're not going to get that from Twitter, or the infotainment on many media platforms.

A case in point is Paul Krugman, whose columns in the NYT and blog on its website provide absolutely essential reading. Today he comments on the Standard and Poor's downrating of the US credit status, and once again he's worth quoting. "America’s large budget deficit is, after all, primarily the result of the economic slump that followed the 2008 financial crisis. And S.& P.....played a major role in causing that crisis, by giving AAA ratings to mortgage-backed assets that have since turned into toxic waste.

"Nor did the bad judgment stop there. Notoriously, S.& P. gave Lehman Brothers, whose collapse triggered a global panic, an A rating right up to the month of its demise. And how did the rating agency react after this A-rated firm went bankrupt? By issuing a report denying that it had done anything wrong."

And: "The real question facing America, even in purely fiscal terms, isn’t whether we’ll trim a trillion here or a trillion there from deficits. It is whether the extremists now blocking any kind of responsible policy can be defeated and marginalized."

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