These conversations are happening almost exclusively among media people and media obsessives. Meanwhile there’s a wider conversation taking place on the Net among bloggers and participants in Web communities that has very little to do with journalism at all; it’s basically people talking to one another. At several points in the discussion tonight people got up to make this point, including one woman (I didn’t catch her name; she talked about participating in the community of mother-bloggers) who said, “I don’t know what Internet you guys are on” — and wondered how what she was doing could be considered narcissistic when so much of it involved paying attention to other people’s stories.
These conversations are all taking place orthogonally, and progress is limited. Indeed, the discussion tonight dribbled off into a consensus embrace of the notion of “media literacy”: the media have degenerated, so now, it seems, the consumers of media had better shape up!
Of course, the smarter people are at evaluating what they read, the better. But saying the answer to the crisis in journalism today is “better media literacy” is like saying the answer to the crisis in education is “better learning skills.”