Media bias and the Blogosphere

This is a deadhorse, so I won’t beat it for too long. Here is quick article that discusses Bernard Goldberg’s book Bias, the initial reaction to the book, the later confessions of some in the media, and the effects of the Blogosphere on the media. Considering the recent developments in the larger media world such as Gore taking the first steps towards a television network, Air America, and the new, liberal version of the MRC, Media Matters, bias is something that should be considered. The last thing this country needs is the development of highly polarized mainstream news outlets. We’re already polarized enough, and if our news sources become polarized then political discussions will either become pointless arguments about sources (“Where did you hear that? Fox News? Haha!” or “Did Franken tell you that? Sucker.”) or laborious excercises of mining primary sources for unspun data (seriously, who wants to watch C-SPAN all the time?). We’re still a long ways from that, but it’s my paranoia.

The discussion of blogs towards the end of the article makes some good points. First, blogs are quick reacting. It’s not too uncommon at all for me to read about an event in the blogosphere before it hits the mainstream press. Sometimes the lag is so bad, I have the “that’s-old-news” reaction. Also, it’s annoying to be constantly reading about yesterday’s news in newspapers. However, most of the time blogs are dependent on media outlets for information, so the race is only to see who can organize and present the news item faster. Blogs are usually faster. Second, the capability to capture and preserve what are usually ephemeral, quickly-forgotten statements gives bloggers the power to easily hold politicians accountable. This ability, combined with powerful internet searches and increased electronic documentation, can make any Joe Blogger a fact-checking tour de force. So, not only are there bigger media/political watchdogs, but there are literally thousands of littler guys who are just gunning to to take down the bigger guys. Third, blogs can tackle issues with much more depth and comprehensiveness than pretty much any other medium besides books. You aren’t going to get a real thorough treatment of any current major issue by just watching the news, reading the paper, or reading one of those pathetic news magazines (Time, Newsweek, US News, et al.) Well, I suppose you can if you are diligent and either take notes or have a good memory. Blogs, however, have the freedom and the ability to just focus on a few issues, providing the reader with a database of readily accessible news and analysis.

Personally, I’m thankful for the advent of a strong, responsible, trustworthy Blogosphere. It is amazing how disparate the mainstream media and the Blogosphere are when it comes to what issues are covered and discussed. Sometimes its like they are on two different worlds. I’d say I didn’t really start seeing true examples of media bias until I started reading blogs that pointed it out. It’s frustrating, aggravating, and shocking. Here’s an example just from today.

Now it’s a deader horse.

6 thoughts on “Media bias and the Blogosphere

  1. I’ve never been a fan of Nate Ellis.

    Yeah, there are a lot of blogs out there that are just chaff, so what? Nobody has to read them except the people who care. The same goes for the plethora of books. People are excercising their first amendment rights, exploiting technology, and utilizing capitalism. I fail to see how this is a bad thing in any way.

    If the problem is trying to cut through all the “noise” in an attempt to find something worthwhile, then Ellis is just being lazy. And stupid because it isn’t hard to find the things that are worthwhile.

  2. I have a crazy idea! You and me should write a joint letter to the editor “fisking” Ellis’ poorly argued, laughably bad bolumn. Or we could just write separate letters. But I’d like to make the SPU authorities think there’s another conspiracy on its way.

  3. Greg: so you want to double team that little punk? Sure. It won’t be fair, but sure. I think two separate letters would be good. I’ll send you mine when I get it finished.

    Did you also catch the irony in the Falcon? They had a feature on increased blogging by students and then Ellis is whining about how there is too much “noise.”

    Oh yeah, and you can fisk the hell out of this and this.

  4. Here’s what I wrote in my letter to the editor. There is a 300 word limit, otherwise it would have been much longer. Thanks to Greg for proofing it for me 🙂 :

    Nate Ellis in his column on blogs only proves two things: his limited knowledge of what blogs are all about and his laziness. Blogs are not just “a tool for putting up selected rants and thoughts on a Web page.” Granted, many blogs are like that, but many blogs are much more than that. I’d suggest to Ellis to stop reading LiveJournal and explore a little more.

    Ellis states that one does not need credentials to publish a blog, and this is true. However, the credentials of those who do publish the more popular blogs are listed and can be verified. I would also point out that some of those who publish blogs are much more qualified than many journalists. Law professors, authors, scientists, or notable columnists write some of the blogs I read. And, in light of some recent scandals involving even the most respected of newspapers (Jayson Blair, anyone?), Ellis should not be so quick to belittle bloggers. Also, his claim that “a blogger simply needs to write it for it to become truth” is both transparently false and shows no understanding of the fact-checking and self-correction process that is involved in most, if not all, reputable blogs. These blogs take and act on corrections often within minutes of first being published.

    Now, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that Ellis’ simplification of blogs is true. So what if millions of people are exercising their First Amendment rights (a laudable activity in my opinion)? So what if it creates “noise”? Ellis needs to stop being lazy and learn how to use Internet search tools more effectively. He claims he can’t handle all the information on the Internet. Does he demand smaller libraries so he can handle all the information there?

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