Professional Amatuers

Blog­gers seem to be the sto­ry in the news late­ly. This all reminds me of Gomer Pyle shout­ing “Cit-i-zen’s Arrast, Cit-i-zen’s Arrast!”

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.

Press Hat

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.)

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