MSM vs. Digital in 2009: The Times ' Brian Stelter Weighs in on Who Won the Big Stories

On today's Wilshire & Washington, we ask the question: Who's on top, the MSM or Digital Media? Who's leading the discussion, why, and is it a good thing? To help us navigate this tricky landscape, we've got New York Times reporter Brian Stelter with us; Stelter covers television and digital media, and spent over three years as the editor of TVNewser.

We start with the health care debate, and how digital media has been driving a lot of this debate. Without the blogs, would the public option have lasted this long? Probably not. We tackle Obama's First 100 Days™. Remember how CNN covered that "story" and then how they covered Obama's first 200 days as well? They called it news; I call it basic arithmetic. Obviously these stories are moves for higher ratings (isn't CNN behind the Fly Fishing Network at this point?) but did it work? Is it good for us?

We continue our beat-down of CNN with the coverage of the Iranian Election. Digital media was all over that story, yet CNN - which wants to be a "serious" news channel - defended its lack of coverage (remember #cnnfail?) As Stelter notes, cable news needs to be a live stream, and once Iran became a story, CNN should have followed. But isn't it a little unfair to bash CNN? Our standards for them are so high (we don't expect the same from MSNBC or Fox) but when CNN covers silly issues like Michael Jackson's funeral so extensively, it just confuses us.

While digital has had its moments this year, Stelter believes the MSM is still driving the story most of the time, especially with topics like Afghanistan and Iraq, which - because of cost and safety - are impossible for bloggers to really cover. Then again, the major networks didn't even have Kabul bureaus for years, even though we had a war going on in Afghanistan. Good job, guys. This begs the question: Should the MSM actually cover active US warzones? No? Err...

Finally, we discuss a couple of those nutty stories in the past year - balloon boy, the arrest of the Harvard Professor for being black and in his home, what kind of beer Obama is drinking... you know, real stories. With things like these dominating MSM coverage, don't we need a filter for all these non-stories? (I'm told this filter is usually called "editors." Never heard of 'em.) And as we distribute, and redistribute, news and content, shouldn't we ourselves take some responsibility and ask, "Is this news good for us?"

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Wilshire & Washington, the weekly Blog Talk Radio program that explores the intersection of politics, entertainment, and new media, features co-hosts Ted Johnson, Managing Editor of Variety; conservative blogger Teresa Valdez Klein (, and liberal blogger Maegan Carberry ( The show airs every Wednesday at 7:30am PST on