Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Between A Strock & A Hard Place Again

I am a big fan of Carl Strock, columnist for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady. I have said often that it’s worth subscribing to The Gazette for Strock’s columns alone. But he needs to be taken to task for yesterday’s column, which in part was an attack on bloggers.

Once again we hear about “the click of the mouse.” Unlike Alan Chartock who said any blogger can disseminate information with just a click of the mouse, Strock said anyone can find any blog with the click of the mouse. The idea is that it is easy to blog and it is easy for someone to find a blog. Strock goes on to say:

None of these bloggers need necessarily know anything. That goes without saying. They don’t need any qualifications. They don’t even need to identify themselves. They can be anybody. They can say anything. The point is, they reinforce what people want to believe.

I hear from people all the time who sneer at The New York Times and The Associated Press but swear by some anonymous blogger who reinforces their preconceptions.

And the bloggers don’t just rant. They give facts, or alleged facts.

I can testify that I spend a minimum of an hour writing and revising each post. Sometimes I spend several hours doing research before I post. I always try to do my research using reputable sources. I spend more time than I can afford and have often wanted to quit because of the time involved in blogging. Of course, there are irresponsible bloggers out there, who do little or no work before posting.

Furthermore, trying to find a particular blog is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. You can build the blog, but they won’t necessarily come. With millions of blogs out there, it will take you many clicks of the mouse to find a particular blog. Besides it is just as easy to find bad journalism as it is to find a bad blog. There is a reason why those sleazy newspapers with photos of alligators giving birth to dogs and so on are placed right at the checkout counter of your grocery store. You don’t need to even turn on your computer, much less click a mouse, to pick one up.

Both Strock and Chartock seem to have completely accepted Marshall McLuhan’s thesis that “the medium is the message.” In the past this theory was used to reinforce the idea that broadcast journalism, particularly television, was inferior to print journalism. The same assault against television journalism is now being made on blogging.

While there may be some truth to McLuhan’s thesis, I believe that the message is still the message and the medium is the medium. Bad journalism occurs in every medium. The medium is not nearly as important as the message.

The bad blogs have given all bloggers a bad name. It would be great if there were an International Association of Bloggers, that responsible bloggers could join after meeting specific requirements. No doubt someday, such an organization will exist.

Meanwhile, if you think blogging is an unimportant and inconsequential part of journalism, then you need to look at countries where there is no freedom of the press. In those countries, blogging is the only way news is getting out to the rest of the world. Reporters Without Borders recognizes bloggers as essential to journalism and publishes a handbook for bloggers. The handbook can be downloaded in .pdf format.

Bad and good journalism take place in every medium. That’s why I don’t just get my news from one medium, but from the media. I look for quality journalism in the newspapers, on the radio, on television, from internet news sites, and from blogs. Yes, there is a lot of extremism and bad journalism in blogs--just as there is in the rest of the media--but when you find a quality blog, you find a happy medium.

3 Comments:

  • Thank you Dan, I couldn't have expressed that any where near as good as you did. I was so irritated by that column that I only took time to skim it. Those who rarely use the rich resources of the Internet sure do love to sneer at it.

    By Blogger threecollie, at 6:44 AM  

  • Well put. I agree that there are wild variations in quality in any medium, and more so than other forms of media, bloggers do tend to have their particular set of topics and take on the world. I would add that rather than place all the responsibility on writers, the readers of blogs (or any medium for that matter)need to be decerning readers and active thinkers.
    Strock makes it sound as though people finding a blog with a click of the mouse is like a minor stumbling upon hardcore porn.
    Keep up the good work!

    ~Natalie

    By Blogger York Staters, at 10:03 AM  

  • Maybe Strock should next take on columnists who make sweeping generalizations without offering any concrete examples. Uhhh...nevermind.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 AM  

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