THE LAST GATEKEEPER. I suppose it's not fair to stick it to Tom McPhail on the basis of one short quote in the current USA Today. But I'll do it anyway: he would expect no less.
McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri, is quoted in a piece by Peter Johnson on the credentialing of bloggers at the Democratic National Convention:
That bloggers get front seats bothers Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri.
"They're certainly not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo," McPhail says. Bloggers "should be put in a different category, like 'pretend' journalists."
Where does one even begin? Well, okay. I'll begin with something small: I'm not sure what Johnson means by "front seats." Most bloggers, I imagine, will be allowed to roam the perimeter, outside the convention hall, and to work in a press area for journalists from smaller news organizations, such as Farm Implements Quarterly or some such thing.
But to get back to McPhail. Surely he knows that some journalists have jobs in which they are expected to be "objective," whatever that means (try "fair"), and some are lucky enough to be opinion-mongers.
Most of the best bloggers - Josh Marshall, Andrew Sullivan, Eric Alterman, Danny Schechter - write for print publications, too. Mickey Kaus, who's admittedly gone a bit daft with his Kerry hatred, but who's still entertaining, is a longtime print veteran. Besides, he blogs for Slate. Isn't that a non-pretend news organization?
But all this takes McPhail's observations too seriously. The days of gatekeeper journalism are long gone. Letting bloggers in is no different from credentialing alternative weeklies - or, for that matter, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw.
The old order is dying. I guess word hasn't gotten out to Missouri. (Via Romenesko.)