CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com have come a knocking at her door, and Jill Miller Zimon now wants to rachet down the racket that has often pitted the Ohiosphere against the mainstream media. Has she joined an armistice caucus? It even seems as though the gentlelady who authors Writes Like She Talks is proposing peace talks nationwide -- not just in Ohio -- and is writing about it, too. But don't release the doves just yet.
Of course, many are not ready to abandon the trenches. The Daily Bellwether down here in Cincinnati itches to practice Ho Chi Minh journalism, popping up unexpectedly and ready to ambush the MSM. Bizzyblog has battled the The New York Times and duels with the MSM on a site called NewsBusters. And Joe Hallett at the Columbus Dispatch has been a repeated target of salvos from the 'sphere, whose hard work he has been prone to write off as copycat or derivative. Wendy Hoke tangled with the Society of Professional Journalists, then abandoned her membership because it tried to put the interests of Big Media ahead of the indies and freelancers.
Truth is, the MSM is quite a different beast.
The vast majority of blogs are sole proprietorships, or tight knit operations with tiny staffs. Most of the MSM looks like a social insect colony by comparison. There are editors who decide what stories may say. The are other editors who decide where they are played. There are yet more who decide the headlines. And then some more who pick the pictures. There are writers and reporters and photojournalists who have stacks of editors on top of them, so many it can seem like there are hot and cold running editors . And there are editors over the editors. The top editors answer to publishers, who often answer to corporate masters in distant locations.
And the MSM -- print or broadcast -- isn't run for public service, the personal satisfaction of producing content, or even the pursuit of partisan political goals. Its sole bottom line is profit -- making money by reaching a mass audience.
Another difference: Most MSM outlets occupy a specific hunk of turf, and they are loathe to let it go. The Toledo Blade, or the Columbus Dispatch, or The Plain Dealer, all have their hometown audiences and they cater to news and topics for that little slice of the universe.
A blog isn't chained to any patch of real estate, but it can enthusiastically be chained to a philosophy or partisan viewpoint -- often those are the only reasons for a blog's existence. It can be inclined to start fights or quarrels. It can be anti-Wal-Mart, or pro-Wal-Mart. It is free to be anything it wants.
Buckeye State Blog is partisan as hell, but it is not focused on Cleveland readers or a Cleveland market. BSB's Jerid wandered all over New Hampshire like a Democratic Johnny Appleseed this summer covering the presidential campaign on a shoestring. He sowed his opinions and watched them sprout. No MSM outlet in Ohio has attempted to do that, nor would it dare. A reporter could suggest it -- but an editor would have to review the work -- and a bean counter would have to approve spending the money before shuttling someone off to the Granite State.
And then a story about Mitt Romney -- well, it might not be news at all if there was a fire in a house on a suburban cul-de-sac somewhere in Delaware County.
So praise the blogs and pass the ammunition. Don't go AWOL in the struggle between Us vs. Them.
Yes, the MSM has the bigger guns. But the bloggers seem to be very precise marksmen. Although another simile comes to mind from the world of social insects -- termites. They are hardly ever seen, but their munch packs punch. And when termites eat away the foundations, even the biggest edifice can topple. And if you are a blogger, and you hear your keyboard clacking as you write, that's the sound of termites munch, munch, munching away . . .