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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Value of Bloggers

Fear rules almost every newsroom in the country.
Dan Rather

I posted this response to John Fleck's commentary regarding the
DukeCityFix's blog entitled, "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Blog?" My first posting commended the fine folks who put together the upbeat blog that discusses a wide variety of topics concerning the Greater Albuquerque area. John Fleck is an outstanding reporter who is employed by the Albuquerque Journal; he recently garnered 3 prestigious awards from the New Mexico Press Core.

AbqAvgJoe wrote:

Blogging is definitely the wave of the future - I have gotten more accurate and in-depth information from "citizen journalists" via blogs than from the major media networks. I have also witnessed the effect bloggers have had on getting the real story out despite either concerted efforts by cable news networks or the cowering news media which have deservingly come to be looked upon with mistrust.

I am convinced if Democracy is going to continue to thrive it will be because of bloggers who have no need to be "beholden" patron driven news.

Congratulations Duke City Fix and keep up the good work!

John disagreed not only with me but with several other people who posted responses to Chantal Foster's writing that called to question the Albuquerque Journal’s decision to put the kibosh on an article written about bloggers and more specifically, the launch of DukeCityFix.

John Fleck wrote:

". . . As for AbqAvgJoe's comment that he gets more accurate and in-depth information from "citizen journalists" than the mainstream media, puhleeez. I read tons of blogs of the sort that are devoted to discussions of life in the public square. What I see, far more than citizen journalists generating their own information, is bloggers linking to stories in the mainstream media. There's linking to other blogs for thoughtful analysis and criticism, but almost without exception, the mill's informational grist comes from professional journalists writing on behalf of traditional media organizations. We remember the Rathergates of the world, which are important, but most of the everyday linking in blogs, providing the information basis for the discussion, is the routine and accepting link to the MSM. (My favorite example of the day is Glenn Reynolds linking to today's New York Times story about the infamous LANL blog. The LANL blog is, I think, the most interesting example of citizen journalism out there right now in New Mexico. But Reynolds found out about it through the big bad MSM.) . . ."

According to Foster, the Journal decided that DCF poses a threat as a competing news provider. I am not necessarily convinced the Journal's decision against publication of the DCF article is motivated by fear. It sounds more to me like good old-fashioned greed; they don't want to give free advertising to their 'competition' by circulating a story to their readership base. Ahh modern journalism, where politicos with sympathetic journalists are given every opportunity to soft-ball their agenda and pass it off as 'fair and balanced' news to a predominantly unsophisticated public that reacts on cue. I could go on about the duplicitous nature of the American press but that’s what this thread is about anyway right? Well, you can't keep a good thing down and blogging has come of age regardless of whether the press is ready or not. I suspect DCF is going to do just fine in spite of the Journal's ill-thought-out decision. I do applaud the forward-thinking effort put forth by the motley crew over at DCF. Here is my response to Fleck;

AbqAvgJoe wrote:

In responding to Fleck's remarks regarding the value of MSM; I agree completely. Moreover, regarding John's reporting; I have no complaints and I find your writing to be anything but boring. However John, you are not, nor can you ever be, a clear representative of the MSM period. You are only one reporter and I find it hard to believe that you of all people, by virtue of your daily presence at the newspaper cannot be aware of inherent shortcomings that all media services are subject to. As an aside, many of the bloggers whose postings I regularly follow are professional journalists sharing your qualifications to report. I particularly respect them because they are speaking up and their reportage seems to be more honest that what I am witnessing in cable news or the 'Big 3" these days.

Despite your level-headedness in reporting, I am mildly amused from your posting that your rather wordy response never touches upon the phenomenon of political bias that every news provider is subject to. Any cursory review of history reveals the specter of personal bias raising its ugly head and [even to the point of] altering history itself.

For you to ignore fallibility of the MSM is intellectually dishonest. I am not ready to get rid of MSM at all. However, I do welcome input from other people who may or may not share my own world-view. I don't just frequent blogs that share my outlook because I enjoy the openness, the exchange of ideas and the dialogue.

In lieu of responding [in kind] to your [petty] dismissal of "puhleese," regarding my opinion on blogging, I say, 'thank you' because I have gotten a response from you directly. That hasn't happened in the past when I've directed my responses to [you] at the Journal. At any rate, I do value your input and acknowledge that we do indeed have different perspectives.

I will say this however; it is a shame you cannot be in Washington, DC at the Whitehouse press briefings because I would trust your reportage but, I suspect you are where you are because you haven't yet forgotten your commitment to delivering news I applaud you for that.

Now, if I didn't make it clear in my first posting, let me say it now; the only thing insuring Liberty will continue to thrive is freedom of speech - an unbiased press is critical for such a guarantee and bloggers keep the press honest.


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