Intelligence Squared US: Good Riddance to Mainstream Media

Sun, 01/24/2010 - 10:00pm

Pictured: Michael Wolff (second from left) gestures while arguing for the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media" during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate moderated by John Donvan (center). The Oct. 27 debate took place at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Can mainstream media re-invent itself to thrive in a digital age?

Mainstream media is dying. The network evening news audience is in steady decline; the big three magazine publishers, Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst have all closed or consolidated titles; and the newspaper industry has been especially ravaged, with dailies folding across the country. Increasingly people get their news from the internet and from cable channels. Advertisers are moving on to Google and other non-traditional sources. Do these developments leave us better off?

The democratization of news, in an unfiltered internet to which all bloggers and news aggregators have equal access, is a good thing. It encourages a diversity of voices, competing to provide information and analysis. Others argue that the public loses when traditional journalistic standards are no longer upheld, and where resources to investigate and report critical stories are no longer available. Can mainstream media re-invent itself to thrive in a digital age? Does it matter? Intelligence Squared US: Good Riddance to Mainstream Media, moderated by ABC News Nightline correspondent John Donvan asks a panel if mainstream media can re-invent itself to thrive in a digital age, and does it matter? Intelligence Squared US: Good Riddance to Mainstream Media airs Sunday, January 24 at 10 p.m. on AM 1370/FM-HD91.5-2.

FOR THE MOTION:
John Hockenberry is co-host of The Takeaway, a national morning news program co-produced by WNYC Radio and Public Radio International. During his time at ABC and NBC, he earned four Emmy Awards, three Peabody Awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a Casey Medal. Hockenberry has been recognized for his pioneering online content, hosts the public radio series The DNA Files, is a weeky commentator for the series The Infinite Mind, and is currently a distinguished fellow at the MIT Media Lab.


Jim VandeHei is executive editor of Politico. In the fall of 2006, VandeHei, along with co-founder John Harris, left the Washington Post to create Politico, now one of the nation’s most influential websites and newspapers. Prior to the Washington Post, VandeHei reported for the Wall Street Journal, where he covered Congress and the White House, and Roll Call, where he covered the GOP majority. In 2008 VandeHei and Harris were named the fifth most influential U.S. pundits by the London Telegraph.


Michael Wolff is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the founder of news aggregator newser.com. His latest book is The Man Who Owns the News (2008), a biography of Rupert Murdoch. He has also been an entrepreneur involved with the start-up of many businesses, including, in 1993, his first Internet company. As an early Internet pioneer (an experience chronicled in his book Burn Rate), and student of the media, Wolff has witnessed and written about the revolution in news habits. Newser, launched in late 2007, is his effort to help invent the new news.

AGAINST THE MOTION:
Phil Bronstein began his journalism career in his teens as a film reviewer. He joined the San Francisco Examiner as a reporter in 1980, and beginning in 1983, spent 10 years as a war correspondent where he was a 1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work in the Philippines. He was named executive editor of the Examiner in 1991. When the Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle merged in November 2000, he was named editor of the Chronicle. In February 2008, Bronstein was named executive vice president and editor-at-large of the Chronicle.


David Carr writes a column for the Monday Business section of the New York Times that focuses on media issues including print, digital, film, radio, and television. He also works as a general assignment reporter in the Culture section of the Times covering all aspects of popular culture. During the movie awards season, Carr writes a daily blog called The Carpetbagger and appears in weekly videos. Prior to joining the Times, Carr was a contributing writer for the Atlantic Monthly and New York Magazine. He is the author of The Night of the Gun (2008).


Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of the Nation. She is the editor of several books including, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover (2009) and co-editor of Taking Back America–And Taking Down The Radical Right (2004). She is also co-editor (with Stephen F. Cohen) of Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev’s Reformers. She is a frequent commentator on American and international politics on ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS, and her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Foreign Policy magazine, and the Boston Globe.