Are Blogs the New Newspapers? (March 29, 2007)
Are blogs the new newspapers? Reader H.S.K. got me thinking about blogs and media in a new way:
Let me say that I have been reading your blog for several months now (as well as a few others). Your site stands out mainly because of the high degree of thought and creativity of content that you provide on a daily basis.Thank you, H.S.K., for the praise and the insightful commentary on the future of media.
Here is contributor Paul M.'s assessment of the mass media's weaknesses and the impact of blogs:
But I think the overall discourse, given the nature of the Internet and blogging, has this ripple effect that transcends the number of supporters who identify mainly with OfTwoMinds. Quality sites such as yours have a much greater impact than you might realize. So although some of the topics often are presented with highly technical analysis, the issues don't always lend themselves to simple solutions. Think derivatives. Zero discussion in the mainstream media, with the exception of the financial press, which appears to be exuberant cheerleaders one day and somber bears the next. And I am not saying the mainstream is without value. They just don't follow a logical progression sometimes.Astute reader Phil M. comments on what differentiates blogs from the mass media-- the personal touch: (please pardon my reprinting of praise, something I don't do unless there's another point being made by the reader)
I forget how I stumbled upon your blog, but I am very grateful that I did. The blog phenomena are fascinating for many reasons, with great content and the allure of an emerging new media type probably chief among them. But what made me hit your PayPal button in an instant (okay, a couple of seconds) was that I've come to regard you as a sort of friend that I like to listen to, that lubricates my own thinking. Usually the loudest or most emphatic guy at the pub gets the most attention, but I wish it was someone more like you: sensible, compassionate, insightful, classy, witty and human.These reader insights made me realize why this site attracts so many of the best and the brightest--it's you. The high quality of the readers' comments insures the quality of the dialog between myself as "editor" and you as reader and contributor is equally high. As HSK put it so well: you have access through other readers to a vast sea of collective knowledge of the highest caliber.
It made me ponder the weaknesses inherent in both the mass media and the blogosphere. In the mass media, readers/viewers are shoved aside onto "letters to the editor" unless theu're an expert in academia or government who is known as an expert to the media. Anyone without these PR credentials is basically ignored.
The only vote readers have is to "vote with their feet," i.e. cancel their subscription. That's a pretty blunt tool for input.
As for "pundits," there are only a handful in the entire nation who get paid to pontificate as columnists, and unfortunately they generally are little more than ideological distillers: every topic gets mashed into a "Conservative" or "Progressive" diatribe, and frankly, that's about as entertaining (and useless) as "if it bleeds, it leads" journalism.
There's another serious problem with the major media, and many of you have written in to tell me you sense the same thing: the media simply isn't reflecting the realities we see around us. In general, the media coverage suggests everything is rosy with the U.S. economy, even as we see evidence to the contrary "on the ground." Some readers have gone so far as to suggest that they thought they were going crazy, as what they saw did not align at all with what the media "reports."
The blogosphere has its own inherent limitations as well.
There's the unfortunate tendency towards "cheerleader" sites which attract and reinforce those already possessing the same ideological views. If you "vote" for information which already aligns with your views, then is this truly "democratic"? Are you a better-informed citizen for reading materials which don't challenge your knowledge base or ideological bent?
Blogs offer plenty of opportunities for reader input--in fact, too many. Forums for readers to post comments and respond to each other and the host/writer can be interesting, but the problem with these is that they're huge time-sinks. On the rare occasion I read an entire chain of comments, I find myself exhausted by the expense of time and wishing that I could have read something with the same information condensed into a succinct format. None of us has time to read more than a handful of commentaries, so we want them to be succinct and fresh. This is the goal of professional journalism (or should be).
Then there's the problems inherent in anonymous blogging, where venomous or just plain idotic comments are posted with the same alacrity as thoughtful ones.
As I ponder the positive feedback I've received from so many of you, I am wondering what brings such savvy readers to this site. My guesses:
If I am off-base on all this, then by all means let me know.
If I am an early adopter, as HSK suggests, then I am indeed fortunate, because I've somehow attracted one of the smartest readership on the web.
(insert brilliant marketing line here which instantly causes erudite readers to) Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.
copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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