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.
As newspapers go under, the network newscasts lose viewers and the mainstream media in general see more and more of their audience shift online, are we as a society better or worse off?
Some argue that the diversity of voices available on the Internet to provide information and analysis makes for a better system. Others say a decline in traditional journalism means lower standards and fewer resources to investigate crucial stories.
A panel of experts took on this topic Oct. 27 in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Three panelists argued for the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media" and three against in an Oxford-style debate.
Before the debate, the audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 25 percent in favor of the motion and 50 percent against. Twenty-five percent was undecided. After the debate, 24 percent supported the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media," while 68 percent opposed it and 8 percent remained undecided.
The debate was moderated by John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline. Those debating:
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. He has been recognized for his pioneering online content; hosts the public radio series The DNA Files; is a weekly commentator for the series The Infinite Mind and is a distinguished fellow at the MIT Media Lab.
(From left) John Hockenberry, Jim VandeHei and Michael Wolff argue in favor of the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media."
(From left) John Hockenberry, Jim VandeHei and Michael Wolff argue in favor of the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media." Chris Vultaggio
Jim VandeHei is executive editor of Politico. In 2006, VandeHei, along with co-founder John Harris, left The Washington Post to create what is now one of the nation's most influential Web sites and newspapers. Before the Post, VandeHei reported for The Wall Street Journal, covering Congress and the White House, and Roll Call, for which he covered the GOP majority.
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, a biography of Rupert Murdoch. 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. He was a 1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work in the Philippines. He was named executive editor in 1991. When the Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle merged in 2000, he was named editor of the Chronicle. In 2008, Bronstein was named executive vice president and editor at large of the Chronicle.
David Carr (center) argues against the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media," along with Phil Bronstein and Katrina vanden Heuvel. To demonstrate his point, Carr holds up a printout of the newser.com aggregation site with stories from the mainstream media cut out.
David Carr (center) argues against the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media," along with Phil Bronstein and Katrina vanden Heuvel. To demonstrate his point, Carr holds up a printout of the newser.com aggregation site with stories from the mainstream media cut out. Chris Vultaggio
David Carr writes a column for the Monday Business section of The New York Times that focuses on media issues. He also works as a general assignment reporter in the Culture section, covering popular culture. During the movie awards season, Carr writes a blog called The Carpetbagger and appears in weekly videos. Before 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.
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. She is a frequent political commentator 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.
The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.