After the credit for bringing down Sen. Trent Lott, Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, and Jeff Gannon (aka J.D. Guckert), bloggers seem to be the story in the news lately. By news, I mean the “mainstream media,” although bloggers seem to be doing an awful lot of back-patting of their own. It’s been said the media’s favorite subject is itself and it seems bloggers are no different in that regard. The story, it seems, is the question as to weblogs place in the media. Wired had a story yesterday about the question of bloggers having the same protection as mainstream journalists. Political-minded weblogs are arguing back and forth about which journalists or media icon they brought down has the most political significance and who is responsible for their fall. I might ask here, has anyone read anything about a blog making someone famous? I guess that’d just be dog-biting-man stuff.
This all reminds me of Gomer Pyle shouting “Cit-i-zen’s Arrast, Cit-i-zen’s Arrast!” While I don’t think that too many places have licensed journalists (unlike say, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, or hair-dressers), I think that we all understand the idea of being a “member of the press.” Remember those goofy white cards sticking out of the guys’ hats in all the 50’s & 60’s shows that read PRESS? That doesn’t make sense unless we all have some understanding of the concept of what the press is. Like the freedom of the press in the 1st Amendment. This is also why bloggers go by the very populist title of “citizen journalists.” It sounds all so folksy and grass-roots doesn’t it? Well, I for one think it’s about as folksy as a case of rabies. When you have no rules or understood ethical guidelines, it is amazing what you can get done. However, those rules and ethics are what make the news news and not simple gossip. I’m not naive and I’m fully aware that this doesn’t always happen. I remember Stephen Glass and Jayson Blaire, too. However, we had a sort of market guarantee that the evening news or the morning paper were going to try and get it right (yes, the facts) and not take the insanely stupid risk of reporting something that just wasn’t true or that no one was willing to go on the record as saying. It seems Bloggers sometime relish in the fact that they don’t have to play by any certain rules, just because of the exceptions in the Mainstream media that broke said rules. This is just the latest development in what I think is a worrisome trend.
Somewhere along the way, we got Fox News for conservatives and I guess CNN is for the rest of us who just don’t think Fox News is worth a damn. Anyway, we got these news channels that suddenly had demographic audiences they seemed hell bent on pleasing to keep. The news was custom tailored to what the audience thought the truth ought to be, rather than what it might actually be. Now, with blogs, it goes a giant leap beyond. Now, people are reporting what they think the news should be. No longer do we just subscribe to our own little news filters, we filter it with our own lens for others! They dictate what the spin is and seem to have little trouble in pushing it relentlessly until the Mainstream Media picks up on it. In this brave new world, your on the record 24-hours-a-day, 7‑days-a-week.
I have a blog. I’m not trying to fool you. This is all an exercise in vanity, just like every other blog is. Let’s just keep in mind that quitting our day jobs to sit around in our pajamas and spew digital bile on those we hate isn’t going to make the world better for anyone except pajama manufacturers. I’ll let Chuck Olsen & Jon Stewart have the last word. Thank’s Chuck for posting this video. (We all know what a true friend of the Mainstream Media that Jon is.)