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New media doesn't entirely reject the model of traditional media, they're just trying to do it better, Arianna Huffington said Monday in front of a crowd at the Personal Democracy Forum Conference in New York City.
That comment followed Huffington's heavy criticism of traditional news organizations for failing to ferret out the truth and instead relying on fake neutrality, which she said they present when they deliver a "he said, she said" piece without consideration for whether those sides have equal value.
She drew applause from the crowd when she said: "We wasted years debating global warming that way. The world is not flat."
Huffington pointed out that new media aims to increase transparency, accountability, and community. She characterized old media as having the "disorder of attention deficit disorder," while the new media is "obsessive compulsive," which she argues is needed to get to the truth.
She advocated for media with a point of view, but one that doesn't "sell independence for access" or protect those who they favor. She said her site, The Huffington Post, has expanded to become an online newspaper and prides itself on breaking news, just like the old media does.
Huffington also addressed traditional media's criticism of bloggers and citizen journalists as lacking credibility. "It's not like old media had so much credibility," she said. "We have new media because people didn't trust the old media."
Chuck DeFeo, who fielded questions with Huffington, also expressed confidence in the new media's ability to get the truth out. He said voter apathy, a frequent complaint in the last millennium, has diminished.
"Now we truly have an arena of ideas threaded throughout society," he said. "I don't think there's much apathy today."
DeFeo, VP and general manager of conservative online community Townhall.com, as well several Web sites for Salem Communications' nationally syndicated talk radio programs, said that democratic ideas discussed at the conference have been around since Plato and Voltaire, "but it's not until now that we are truly able to do it."
DeFeo, who served as e-campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004, said that the new media has "elevate certain viewpoints that just would not have been heard" before.