The first person style of blog posts often allows bloggers to do a better job of explaining complex subjects than the odd, almost Victorian style of newspaper and TV writing. Blogs can simply say, straight out, "here are the three main points and here's how they affect the argument at hand." Newspaper articles, by contrast, are often so laden down by superflous quotes and faux objectivity that by the time you're finished you're still confused about what's really going on.
Blogs can aggregrate information from a lot of different sources. The conventions of mainstream journalism don't really allow this. A Washington Post story, for example, might mention a single outside news source that's broken a story or has a unique fact, but that's about it. Blogs, by contrast, can collect half a dozen points from half a dozen different sources and quote them directly. There's no institutional loyalty to defend.
Blog posts can be any length. If a thought only deserves a couple of sentences, that's what it gets. If it deserves a thousand words, it can get that too. When was the last time you saw a 200-word op-ed or a 20-minute segment on the evening news?
Bloggers don't have sources. That means there's very little original reporting in blogs, but it also means bloggers don't have to worry about either protecting sources or protecting access to sources. That makes a difference in how openly they can criticize newsmakers.
Blogs don't have to maintain the same standards as mainstream journalists. They can toss out ideas and rumors in a way that's genuinely valuable but hard to do in the mainstream media. I think this quality is essential to blogs, and it's one of the reasons I suspect that mainstream journalists will never truly become bloggers. Newspapers legitimately have high standards for what they're willing to report, and these high standards simply don't fit in with the anything-goes atmosphere of the blogosphere.
Blogs allow unapologetic passion. Even on the op-ed page, convention dictates a sober, clinical style that makes it hard for writers to really say what they mean and for readers to figure out what axe the author has to grind. With blogs you're never in doubt about the author's point of view.
Blogs can obsess over a single topic in a way that's hard for newspapers. This is sometimes a great weakness, of course, but it can also be a great strength at times.
I happen to dislike the typographical constraints of newspapers. Blogs, by contrast, can use bullets, blockquotes, and hyperlinks in ways that genuinely aid in making complex information more accessible.
Finally, blogging is a two-way street. Blogs respond to each other and commenters respond to blogs. Blogs are a great way to get a quick read on what topics are really raising the blood pressure among that small group of people who really care passionately about politics.
While the corporate funded Political Opinion Complex seeks to distribute information primarily for the purpose of consumption, the primary goal of the Blogosphere is to distribute political information for the purpose of agitation / direct action. The POC only wants you to consume what it produces. The Blogosphere seeks for its consumer to act after, or even as a result of, consumption of its product. To put it another way, The Blogosphere is a counter-institutional formation that seeks to relocate the primary purpose of political and opinion journalism in agitation toward action rather than in profit-based consumption.
If that ain't Avant-Garde, then I don't know what is.
The Internet -- and in particular, blogs -- will be the cornerstone of the strategy this media revolution will follow, though of course all means are important participants. Indeed, the reforms are intended to reach every facet of American mass media: newspapers large and small, television, film, radio, books, and of course the Internet.
For that matter, blogs themselves are odd creatures in that, except for the handful who actually engage in original reporting themselves, they are almost entirely dependent on other media forms, particularly print and Internet journalism. But part of what makes them unique is that they synthesize and contain information from all these other sources.
Blogs are, above all, uniquely democratic in nature. Anyone can blog. Supposedly serious "name" journalists ultimately have no more real value in the blogosphere than pseudonymous gym teachers who reveal a knack for being in touch with the larger populace. The value of what you write about, and how well you do it, is all that finally counts.
Blogs are also uniquely self-correcting in a way that eludes most other media; if false information is disseminated, it doesn't take long before it's eviscerated by other bloggers. This function, indeed, forms the backbone of its larger role as a media watchdog; just as blogs will "out" bad blogging, they also have been shown to expose false reporting, as well as malicious behavior on the part of both politicians and the press that might otherwise be buried in the "mainstream."
Because the blogosphere is still more or less in its infancy, it remains somewhat indistinct in shape, though a larger architecture is already beginning to emerge. There are inherent flaws, not the least of which is that a consistent blogger ethos seems not to have emerged fully but has remained formative; at some point, a sense of journalistic ethics ought to take root in the name of establishing credibility.
Nonetheless, blogs can and should play the role of central clearing-house for information in the Media Revolt. As the general public realizes that blogs can provide them with vital information they're not getting anywhere else, the audience will build. This includes the whole gamut of information: the factual news about the world, as well as reports on who's misbehaving or committing political atrocities or simply being incompetent; analysis of this information that would be suppressed in mainstream reports; information about planned actions to protest misbehavior; and action and funds needed to enact the needed legislative and structural reforms.
Blogs, in other words, can and should play the role abdicated by the mainstream media both in monitoring their own behavior and ethics, and in providing enough diversity that a wealth of viewpoints are given fair treatment, as in any healthy democratic society, and the public properly served.
Blogs will not and cannot do the job alone, of course. The whole purpose of the revolt is to foster an environment in which mainstream journalists, from the lowly ink-stained wretch to the well-coiffed network anchor, are both allowed and positively encouraged to provide truthful and meaningful journalism that provides vital information to the public and does it responsibly and thoroughly. So that will mean recognizing and positively celebrating when superior journalism does its job well; such reporters and truth-tellers should be lauded, promoted, and in the end well remunerated for their work. It will mean channeling the marketplace to reward organizations that do their job well, too.
Finally, the Media Revolt will tap the energy of the citizenry through traditional means as well: Letter-writing campaigns, voting with our pocketbooks, organizing politics and funds on the ground -- without which, in fact, anything that occurs on the Web may prove meaningless. The idea is to turn from simply critiquing the media to taking concrete action.
I have nothing of real value to add to the thoughts these folks have shared with us, as befits someone whose primary reason for blogging was expressed well by Atrios some time ago: it beats yelling back at the TV.
While I am not entirely convinced about some of the more grandiose claims made for the value of blogs and the blogosphere in general (I'm not necessarily referring to the things Drum, Bowers and Neiwert are saying in the above entries), especially when weighed against the power of the handful of giant corporations that essentially control the mediasphere (corporations which for the most part share an agenda palpably different from and opposed to mine and that of the liberal/left bloggers I read), and I'm acutely aware of the addictiveness of blog-consumption and the time it tends to suck up (to the detriment of other activities, especially book reading -- testimony for which is the shelves full of unread books awaiting my attention), I also feel vastly more informed and connected than compared to my pre-blog days -- at least in certain areas of knowledge, particularly current political events and foreign policy.
Nothing comes without a price, of course, but overall blogging has enriched me, I think. Whether my wife and children feel that way, I don't know -- perhaps they'll need to start their own blogs to let me know.
I think that the blogosphere, and the Internet more generally, has the potential to usher in something equally great; a New Renaissance, if you will. Itâ€™s similar to the old trade networks of Italy and the Middle East in that it allows ideas to be carried across the world at high speed. And like the printing press before it, the Internet allows the most innovative and revolutionary ideas to spread quickly at little cost. Hell, Howard Dean essentially created a new political party through the Internet.
The progressive blogosphere is obsessed with tearing down Republican positions, just as Lefty English majors are obsessed with tearing down (or deconstructing) religion and family structures. But, attempts to tear things down are admissions of inferiority. You tear down that which you fear, and that which you think is stronger than you. Instead of using our collective energies to destroy conservatism, progressives should construct new ideas. Imagine thereâ€™s a bar on the street that you hate, but tons of people keep going into the bar and getting drunk on the cheap, watered-down beer. Instead of standing outside and denouncing the bar, and throwing sticks at it, why not build a better bar down the street? Give people a place to go, and then you can ignore the crappy bar. One of the reasons Republicans have been so successful is that, for nearly 20 years, theyâ€™ve been cultivating an intelligentsia in think tanks and foundations. As flawed as their vision is, their collective energies have constructed a positive vision (in law, economics, foreign policy, etc.). The Left, by contrast, is vision-less.
The Leftâ€™s problem isnâ€™t that they lack good policies. Weâ€™re right on the issues. Our problem is one of narrative and rhetoric. All we need is a new way to sell these ideas. Many people are simply scared that the Left is going to undermine what they hold most dear â€“ God, America, and traditional family. Instead of destroying these concepts, we can use those concepts to persuade. In short, we can construct a new progressivism using these very concepts. Obviously, my ideas will need to be worked out, but weâ€™ve got to start somewhere. And what better place than the blogosphere â€“ the printing press of the 21st century.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.