Yes, it’s ironic that I am blogging about Ed Kemmick and David Crisp‘s blog posts about blogging, but it’s cool–we’re all bloggers. They raise some good points:
I absolutely agree that blogs tend to be very insular–and that is really unfortunate, but I think it more accurately reflects the political divide in our country right now. The web’s not alone in its failure to create legitimate spaces for civil political discourse; those places don’t really exist in the public sphere, or in the traditional media.
It’s also true that blogs encourage behavior that is less than civil by allowing anonymous comments. Take a look over at Montana’s new conservative blog, and you’ll see why they don’t work. I think it’s also true that there is little accountability for blog posts, but is there really accountability for the news media? The New York Times, like me, can only lose its audience if it loses the trust of its readership. (Last Check: 62,000,000 to 7). Of course, I can’t start a war, either.
It’s also damn true that bloggers think they are a lot more important than they are. Blogger Triumphalism sounds like a nice title for a book. 🙂
Those concessions aside, I think some of the argument against blogs is overstated. David writes:
Bloggers fact-check our asses, and we don’t like it. Some do, some of the time. But most media criticism on blogs is of such low and redundant quality that reading it is a waste of time.
I think you are reading the wrong blogs, man. Some of the things we write are snarky, mean-spirited, or even juvenile, but often (at least occasionally), they are right. I’ll stand by this criticism of Charles Johnson’s recent piece. Matt’s criticism of The Missoulian’s editorial the other day was dead on. Touchstone offered a thoughtful analysis of abortion rights. Montana, and the nation have some damn fine thinkers who don’t have access to the media on a regular basis, and they’re worth giving a read. Why? Because just as blogs are insular, so is the media. Why else would Larry Sabato be the ‘go to guy’ for 6 of 10 articles about political analysis? Why do the same pundits appear on the TV news shows every week? The insular, enclose world of the media and its subjects is one that needs to be examined, by thoughtful bloggers, reporters, and editors.
The bottom line is this. In the same way that it wouldn’t be fair to criticize the news media based on the Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, or Soviet Pravda, it’s not fair to condemn blogs based on the bottom of the barrel. Read the good stuff–right and left, and you will find nuanced, thoughtful analysis–and occasionally something that you hadn’t thought of before. Sure, I’d love to have more discussion and dialogue on the web, but if that can’t happen, I think it’s a damn sight better to have informed, articulate advocates forcing everyone to be more accountable.
I’m not a citizen journalist. I’m a teacher who is passionate about our political future. Sometimes, I think I even have something valuable to contribute to political discourse. I know that neither David nor Ed would deny me that right, but I hope that they’ll take a look at some of the better work out on the web. It might restore their faith. 🙂