: Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a self-described "professional misanthrope" who gleefully dissects politics, the media, and American culture in the pages of the alt-weekly New York Press and in Rolling Stone.

Matt Taibbi is a self-described "professional misanthrope" who gleefully dissects politics, the media, and American culture in the pages of the alt-weekly New York Press and in Rolling Stone.

He recently penned a five-part series called the "Wimblehack Tournament" that pitted prominent writers' work against each other in a contest to determine the "worst campaign journalist in America." Taibbi spoke to PRWeek about hacks and flacks. PRWeek: What do you like about writing for the alternative press as opposed to traditional media? Matt Taibbi: The difference between alternative and corporate media is the difference in the kinds of stories you have to write for a magazine with big, demanding advertisers. The material must be a lot more sensational and attention-grabbing when you're writing for a magazine that has a lot more financially on the line with each story. That allows alternative media to take more chances and be more innovative. It can set its own agenda. PRWeek: Do you think the explosion of internet media and blogs is a healthy thing? Taibbi: It has pluses and minuses. One problem with blogs is that normal journalistic standards are just gone, so you can write just about anything - a rumor - and it can become a huge phenomenon on the web overnight. PRWeek: Is there any unbiased journalism in America? Taibbi: There is no such thing as objectivity. I think everybody writes from a point of view. My feeling is that you're always representing somebody's point of view or somebody's interest when you're writing. PRWeek: In your experience, do PR people ignore the alternative media or do they target it like more mainstream outlets? Taibbi: Definitely for things like music, film, and those areas, the PR world has to be extremely sensitive to what goes on in the alternative media world because alternative papers have a pretty good share of that market. In terms of what kinds of content take place politically in an alternative paper, I don't think they pay as much attention to that. I think they probably would if it was like a communist or a socialist newspaper - you'd probably have a tough time getting advertisers. Aside from that, they are generally indifferent. PRWeek: Is the media in America getting worse? Taibbi: Yes. The media has gotten so commercial that the impetus now is entirely on what will provide a good vehicle for ads. That is especially true with broadcast journalism. The idea of judging newsworthiness has gone totally out the window with broadcast. And I think that's happening a little in print. Just look at the way that campaigns are covered. PRWeek: What's the solution? Is "Wimblehack" a small contribution to improving the media? Taibbi: No, that's just to make me feel better. I don't have any illusions that it will change anything. The only thing that will really change how the media operates is changing who owns the media. As long as the media's a business, businesses have to make money. As far as they're concerned, they are doing the right thing: upholding their fiduciary responsibility to make money, especially the big corporations. But people just don't understand that it totally counters any benefit to society. Name: Matt Taibbi Publications: Rolling Stone, New York Press Title: Reporter and columnist Preferred contact method: taibbi@nypress.com Website: rollingstone.com, nypress.com

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