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YearlyKos: Blogs vs. MSM!

David Roberts, Gristmill
I’m now in one of the marquee panels of the weekend: blogs vs. MSM! In attendance are Mike Allen of Politico, Jill from Feministe, Jay Carney from Time, and Glenn Greenwald.

Those of you who follow blogs know that Greenwald’s attacks on and contempt for the mainstream media — particularly Allen and Carney — are legend. Everyone’s secretly hoping that there will be fireworks … only not secretly.

Mike Allen’s opening comments, however, are disappointingly conciliatory.

Jill makes the great point that specialized blogs — health care, feminist, (ahem) environmental — are doing a far better job than the MSM at covering their particular areas.

Greenwald says that while the lines have been blurred somewhat, there’s still a distinct and meaningful distinction between how establishment journalists and bloggers approach things and believe the government should be covered. He notes that large majorities of Americans believed — and believe — that Saddam Hussein had a personal hand in 9/11. On the other hand, almost half of Americans can correctly identify … which candidate got an expensive haircut.

Then Greenwald goes on to detail the miserable failure of the media in reporting the Bush administration’s lawbreaking.

Jill makes the excellent point that most of the media criticism from the left is about making the media better, whereas the criticism from the right is simply intended to destroy it and its credibility and authority.

Mike Allen pathetically dodges a direct question about Politico’s role in the degradation of political dialogue.

Greenwald stresses again that’s what’s been lost is the adversarial stance of the media toward officialdom. He said people ought to be grateful that there’s a group of passionate citizens who care about law and principles.

Boy, people are pissed at the media. The questions demonstrate a real sense of betrayal and anger.
(3 August 2007)
See original for links and discussion. David Roberts has been covering Daily Kos! from an enviro perspective in multiple posts at Gristmill

And Now, Folks, Behold the 15-Minute Publisher

Anthony Ramirez, New York Times
…Today, the book business is faster still, but few things are as fast as something called the Espresso Book Machine, the product of a high-tech publishing venture that has nothing to do with caffeine.

Yesterday, in the lobby of a Midtown branch of the New York Public Library, three visitors – a graduate student, a Hong Kong publishing executive and a sixth grader – stood in various states of awe as a Rube Goldberg contraption produced a book from digital code to hefty paperback in under 15 minutes.

The book machine, which occupies the space of two deli-style ice cream freezers, looks like office photocopiers attached to a tinted stereo cabinet and computer terminal. It hums, makes spitting noises, moans and then belches out a newly glued book, fresh as bread and almost as hot.

…The book machine is a demonstration project of On Demand Books, a Manhattan venture founded by Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House, and Dane Neller, former chief executive of Dean & DeLuca, the gourmet grocery store. The machine will be at the Science, Industry and Business Library at 188 Madison Avenue until early September, producing free books from a small list.

There are only three book machines in existence so far, Mr. Neller said.

…Mr. Neller’s firm is pitching the book machine, which may eventually sell for $20,000 or more, principally toward the nation’s 16,000 public libraries and 25,000 bookstores. A 300-page book costs about $3 to produce with the machine. A bookstore or library could then sell it to customers or library members at cost or at a markup.

Why bother? The machine, Mr. Neller said, is for the “far end of the back list,” those books that are out of print or for which there is so little demand that it would be too costly to print a few hundred copies, let alone one.

With the machine, Mr. Neller said, anything available in a portable document format, or PDF, including Grandfather’s memoirs and Ph.D. dissertations, can be printed in minutes as long as a computer can read it.
(2 August 2007)
Big news for those of us who cover topics that are out of the mainstream. It will be possible to quickly publish short runs of books, rather than having to rely on the VERY slow commercial publishing process. Not to mention the fact that many subjects are ignored by commercial publishers. -BA