Saturday, June 03, 2006

Can I Have a Little Taste of That?
I wasn't planning to blog again today, but a comment to this morning's post made it necessary. The comment:
Objectivity went out the window a quarter-of-a-century ago. It is no longer necessary to provide both sides to a story. Just pick a side and try to back it up with lame commentary and half-baked truths.

That's waht bloggers do. They give their opinion based on their beliefs. Few, if any, conduct even a modicum of investigative reporting. It is easier for them to make up a bunch of crap instead of finding out the real story. Sadly, too many ill-informed people buy into it.
This next started off as my own comment to the comment, but when it got too long, I decided to put it here.

Let's not be quite so dismissive of bloggers. I don't purport to be a journalist--however, I also don't think I am guilty of making up a bunch of crap. A guy like Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is clearly a investigative journalist, and a good one. Many of the top blogs are offshoots of respected political journals, such as Tapped and Political Animal. Do they come from a particular viewpoint? Yes. Does that invalidate their work? Not at all.

Providing "both sides of a story" is a fine idea, but as we have noted here before, that ideal falls apart when one side of the story is a lie. In that case, reporting both sides and "letting the viewer decide" is a disservice, because the viewer is not properly equipped to make an informed decision. That's part of what's making us a dumber nation by the day--the inability or unwillingness of journalists to report the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad. Of course, the ignorance of a public unwilling to think critically--in other words, to taste both the shit and the salad first to find out which is which before ordering a whole plate of the stuff--doesn't help. It's a self-perpetuating cycle in which both journalists and news consumers are guilty. Seems to me that in that light, bloggers like those mentioned above represent a solution, while the old-fashioned mainstream media outlets on which we're apparently supposed to rely only perpetuate the problem.

As far as the major opinion sites are concerned, those not primarily journalistic--Eschaton and Kos are two of the biggest, and the people who write for the Kos front page would likely dispute that they're "not primarily journalistic"--are self-correcting, to a degree. If the blogger, a contributor, or even a commenter gets something wrong, readers help them get it right. When it comes to how best to run the country, I'd trust the readers of those two blogs in the aggregate a lot more than I'd trust the judgment of the two million who watched O'Reilly last night.

Are there blogs that are fantastically full of it? Sure, on both sides of the political divide. To dismiss all blogs and bloggers as lame and half-baked displays a depth of cynicism even I can't sink to.

Of course, this blog really is lame and half-baked, but at least we know we are.

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