Sorry for not publishing last week. I was close to being done with a book review of The Politics of Bad Ideas, but then my computer went kaflooey. I still hope to have that up soon.
June 27, 2011 – I’m detecting a definite undercurrent of panic these days. The reason I say that is that bloggers are supplying “information” that the news media are unwilling or unable to supply, along with a helping of innuendo, on the side. While some of the stories are legitimate, others (giant sinkholes??) need to be viewed skeptically, rather than taken at face value. Furthermore, reporting every bit of bad news (“School Board Cuts Teachers’ Salaries”) as if it belonged in the same class as the ongoing nightmare at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, is disingenuous, at best. At worst, its purpose is to induce a state of panic, G-d only knows why. Adrenaline junkies should not rule the ether.
Let’s leave the business of purveying worthless half-truths and sly innuendo to the corporate news giants, shall we? After all, they’re so good at it! News analysis has been the forte of the best bloggers for years now. I, for one, have come to rely on them. The blogging world has always been self-regulating, and has demanded of readers that they judge for themselves. There are, of course, those who seek out sensationalism, and who do not go away empty-handed. Most readers, I like to believe, are looking for alternatives to corporate clap-trap, i.e. television news, guidelines for which must read something like “tell them as little as possible.”
To a certain extent, it’s understandable. There are an awful lot of people in the world now, and – motley crew that Americans have long been – we like to exercise our right to freedom of expression at every opportunity. Millionaire CEO’s who came of age during the Reagan era found the necessity of taking the public’s views into account increasingly annoying, and formed a disregard for both the intellectual and economic status of their audience. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as reflected in the decline of quality television. Any sense that television had a duty to serve the public came to be regarded as a quaint notion.
The world wide web has been compared to the Wild West many times, and it’s an apt comparison. The Web is so vast, with a geography that is essentially unmappable, allowing citizen reporters a proactive freedom never before imagined. For those with something to say, there’s never been a better venue. And the opportunity for an almost immediate exchange with one’s readers is part and parcel of the medium. (It should be noted that, while the internet theoretically offers access to everyone, the disinclined, the poor, the illiterate, and the functionally illiterate are the least likely to make use of it.)
Let’s not sacrifice the excellence of our platform by pandering to those members of the public with overactive imaginations. Many bloggers have done an outstanding job of honoring their readers’ need to know about truly important stories, with enormous impact, that the “main” news organizations have instructions not to cover. Bloggers who sense there’s more out there than meets the eye must do all they can to flesh out a story. Consulting multiple resources is probably the best way to go about doing this. Blogging takes work, but the good blogger offers a needed service. This becomes truer all the time.