I really enjoyed this article by David Downs in the Columbia Journalism Review: Get stoked: the MSM are acting less childish about pot.
We’ve all experienced the media’s childishness over the years when it comes to weed. Every story about marijuana was full of puns, double entendres, and sniggering reporters. It was the rule. No story could escape it.
â€œThe de facto ban on serious, cogent mainstream media discussion about the topic has been lifted,â€ says Stephen Gutwillig, State Policy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington. â€œTheyâ€™ve stopped acting like theyâ€™re in sixth grade. Thereâ€™s less puns and â€˜scare quotes.â€™ The Wall Street Journal did a front-page story last week that treated medical marijuana like just another industry story.â€
Recently, The New York Times ran a classic, â€œStyleâ€ section hit piece on cannabis, but then followed it up, almost as a mea culpa, with an extremely insightful and bold â€œroundtable discussionâ€ with leading thinkers on the topic. The Economist now stands alongside the National Review in calling for legalization, and even the staid Congressional Quarterly Researcher devoted its entire June issue to a thorough review of the topic.
Quite a change. Of course, the sniggering hasn’t stopped completely. Bruce Mirken reports on how the New York Daily News had to completely make up a quote in order to insert the phrase “harshed the buzz” when talking about serious MPP TV ads on medical marijuana.
But that’s the Daily News.
There has been a sea change, and it get more noticeable every day. Serious articles about marijuana in leading papers, with quotes from doctors and cops and, and as the Columbia Journalism Review article notes, “reporters keep telling us how difficult it is to find opposition quotes.â€ [quotes from prohibitionists]
It’s true. Look how often Calvina Fay has shown up recently.
Here’s a part I particularly enjoyed…
At the same time, though, the influence of network television is waning amid the rise of an old-style partisan press on the Internet. Just as â€œweâ€™re seeing a rapid decline of straight media on electoral campaigns,â€ California political consultant Larry Tramutola points out, the Web is diversifying the conversation about marijuana. The debate â€œmay be decided in the blogosphere,â€ Tramutola says. â€œIt may be decided on informal networks.â€
That’s us, baby! That’s us.