"MSM" vs. "Traditional Media"

It's become in vogue by progressives to adopt the right-wing acronym "MSM" to refer to the "mainstream media". It's quite common on this site as well as elsewhere (Arianna uses it here).

I've written before about this (too lazy to search for it). It's a ridiculous term to adopt.

First of all, it's a right-wing pejorative, and I'd rather we not adopt their language and frames.

But more importantly, by calling them "mainstream media", we are saying that we ourselves aren't mainstream, and that's not something I'm willing to concede. This site gets far more readers than most "mainstream media" publications, so why are they mainstream, while we are, by definition, the fringe?

Let the right wingers place themselves out of the mainstream. That's where they belong, with Mr. 25% and the dead-enders who believe fairy tales of a pacified, democratic, pro-Israel Iraq and raft-building kangaroos.

We, on the other hand, are firmly on the mainstream on just about every major issue facing our country, and our numbers are growing. We aren't outside the mainstream, we are representatives of the mainstream, and the country is embracing what we're selling.

In 2002 the electorate was equally divided between Democrats and Democratic-leaners (43%) and Republicans and Republican-leaners (43%). Today only 35% align themselves with Republicans, and 50% with Democrats. The Republicans are doing particularly badly among independents (the fastest-growing group in the electorate) and younger voters. The proportion of 18-25-year-olds who identify with the Republican Party has declined from 55% in 1991 to 35% in 2006, according to Pew. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, notes that the share of Republican voters aged 55 and over has increased from 28% in 1997 to 41% today, whereas the share aged 18-34 has fallen from 25% to 17%. No wonder Ken Mehlman, a former Republican Party chairman who oversaw George Bush's 2004 victory, is now advising hedge funds on how to deal with a Democratic-leaning America.

So if not "MSM" (god, that word is like nails on a chalkboard to me!), then what?

"Corporate media" can work. But my preferred term is "traditional media" -- a nice, neutral, non-negative way to differentiate old media versus the newfangled stuff.

But wait, say some, why do we want a "nice" and "neutral" term for those newspaper and television guys? Aren't we supposed to hate them?

Absolutely not. We need an effective media, one that reports the truth, whatever it may be.

The right wing needs to co-opt or destroy the traditional media because, quite frankly, reality isn't a friend of conservative ideology. The last thing they need is anyone reporting "the truth". Instead, they need to create their own alternate reality to justify their beliefs. And any bit of reality that doesn't conform to their rigid conservative ideology is "liberal".

That's why conservatives seek to denigrate, destroy, and belittle traditional media outlets, trying to scare them from reporting "truth" and "reality".

We don't need to join those efforts. Sure, we need to keep the media honest, but as an institution, it's important they exist and do their job well. And insulting and dismissing them out of hand, using the same language the right-wingers use, doesn't help us achieve that goal.

Originally posted at Daily Kos