Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Beat the Press today called their on-the-outs with the blogosphere last week “an education.” At least they seem still interested in learning - that’s something.
As I already stated here, they did address some of those core gripes, though they missed a couple points. As a “media critique” sort of show, they are well within their mission to look into the reporting of the NYTimes in their original story about bloggers, so I disagree with Dan Kennedy - if the NYT story seemed incomplete, they should have at least mentioned that. And word to the wise, when reporting what other media says, it might behoove you to talk about the caveats that were in the story.
I’ve been thinking about the reaction to last week’s BtP, including my own, to dissect any underlying reason why it was vehement (it certainly was, and I’ll admit it). I believe I know the answer - at least to my own rancor (which, for the most part, I still stick to). You see, we’ve just been watching the media do this over and over - and with far more terrible consequences than undermining Jerome’s personal credibility. The runup to the Iraq war springs first to mind.
You see, I was pretty certain that there were no WMDs or ties to Al Quada since before the first bombs dropped in shock, and awe. But the media, why…they were completely incurious. How did we (bloggers, since that’s where I was reading the truth about Iraq) know the truth but the media didn’t? That’s the core unasked question underlying much of the fervor over this last week. We are tired of seeing this same old drumbeat of assumptions and fitting situations into lazy storylines.
It’s the same incuriousness displayed last week in the BtP blogging story that got us into Iraq. The media failed us, and it failed us over and over after that, and it’s been slowly falling further and faster into irrelevance and oblivion.
Much as they were laughing and joking about the to-do about Jerome this week, it was evident last week that all of the talking heads on BtP were all to eager to beat the bloggers in a way I have not often seen them beat their own colleagues. Sure, they criticize the Globe or the Herald, but not too harshly. After all, those are their friends and fellow reporters after all. And who are bloggers? A bunch of passionate advocates who are always after too much answerability, to the point where some accuse bloggers of being egotistical. Anonymous faces behind the mask of internet accountability. I think they did learn something about internet accountability. It’s rather more like the Wild West than civilized London, but it gets the job done.
I do hope they begin to take these lessons to heart. We’d rather go back to our own boring mundane lives, instead of having to be riled up at everything the press does wrong. But if we don’t do it, who does?
[Just to add: I also want to educate the mainstream press that the other point that must be made, if you truly want to understand blogs, that we are as harsh on each other as we are on you. Bloggers with assertions that don’t make sense and aren’t giving supporting facts are soon piled on as unreliable, and shills for candidates are quickly found out. Blogs without comments are not often given the same weight as blogs that do. Hell, on my own little blog I’m dumped on all the time. One of the pundits on BtP mentioned they saw the “immediacy” of reaction on blogs. That immediacy and direct accountability with readers, that constantly being challenged, is just as much a part of blogging as fact-checking and sourcing supposedly is for “real” journalists (or for that matter, bloggers).]
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