Friday, March 25, 2005

More on blogs

The funny thing is that there are enormous changes taking place in media, but instead of talking about them for what they are everyone seems focused on abstract things like objectivity, journalistic obligations, trust, partisanship, and ethics. These are things that are harder to nail down and things about which it is harder to make strong cases.

If people would calm down about the biased partisan fragmentation explosion dejournalizationifying of blogs, we could talk about how newspaper circulations really are down, publishers are worried about their profits, FoxNews has tens of millions of viewers, people are turning to the Internet to get their news, individual citizens now have decent fact-checking abilities themselves, and young people have eschewed land lines for cell phones. These are interesting and worthwhile topics, but we'll never get anywhere while people keep histrionically ranting about the jagged and broken Big Media landscape (which I have yet to see.)


At 12:39 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

See if you can do something with this, Chuck: I watched Luther this evening for the first time and was struck by how similar the things said by the Church regarding public reading of the Bible resemble the comments being made by media advocates against blogs. The Church asserted that people needed the scriptures to be read and interpreted for them, that we weren't wise enough to understand and make sense of it all ourselves. Network news is purporting roughly the same, saying people won't know the real truth unless the facts are properly framed for them by an enlightened group of humanitarian dictates working for CBS and CNN. It's ironic that journalists, often the most outspoken against censorship of any kind, should start sounding so similar to the Roman Church at it's peak of intellectual repression.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

redhurt, I was really intrigued by this post. I know it wasn’t directed to me, but I did want to comment. There are certain assumptions from which you are working that makes a claim like this possible. I think they include:

1) Mainstream media are a homogeneous and hegemonic enterprise.
2) They represent, or have represented in the past, a control over information flow to Joe and Jane Average.
3) The assumptions that have produced this climate, including a certain view of the political process, a certain set of political views, and a belief in the general incompetence of the American public, are wrong.
4) The consequences of that are negative.
5) Democrats are stupid.

I think each one of those points is completely untenable and manifestly not the case, except maybe point five. Also, I think there is a certain set of assumptions regarding your view of the Roman Catholic Church that allow you, as I think you did, to set it up as absurd prima facia. This would include:

1) People don’t need the scriptures read and interpreted for them.
2) We are wise enough to understanding and make sense of the scriptures ourselves.
3) It has been a good thing that the Bible is publicly read.
4) Catholics are stupid.

Without defending the Roman Church of the sixteenth century, I would say that these assumptions are also completely untenable and manifestly not the case. I know your argument wasn’t about the Church of the sixteenth century or the fate of religion in light of the Reformation, but I think it is worth noting that the argument was framed such that vilifying mainstream media was achieved by comparing them with something so obviously wrong. The problem is, it is not at all clear that the issues to which you point are wrong. Just a thought...

At 1:33 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

J. Morgan, thanks for the cogent response. The way in which you've neatly dissected my premise into 4, or even 5, concise elements helps to organize my point. I'd like to respond in kind, defending each point singularly.

My assumptions:
1.) Media as homogenous and hegmonic. I agree that this is "manifestly not the case", and I thought it would be obvious that I was referring to the elements of the media who've been making the claims I'm disputing.

2.) The media controls the flow of information to the average joe. More than a precept of my argument, this is what the media, or at least the media Charles was quoting, have claimed: that they control the flow of media to joe average, and that this is good for him, since they are smarter than he is. While I think this manifestly has been the case, perhaps it manifestly isn't, in which case "the media" (again, only those elements making the argument I'm disputing) are also wrong, which is still what I've been trying to get across. Their argument against blogs is ridiculous on a number of levels, and perhaps you've hit upon one more.

3 and 4.) The assumptions producing this situation are wrong and the effects are negative. I stand by this. I think society as a whole is better when people are encouraged to question the sources of their information and take part in critically analyzing the information. I believe blogs have become a useful way to do this. That many people do not want to question sources of information or critically analyze it does not mean the medium through which some are is dangerous.

5.) According to my multifaceted, well researched, well spoken, well written, and well versed, fair and balanced sources from many different areas of the news media, all of which are Fox News, this is absolutely true.

As for the scriptures, well my argument again is that Christianity is better off and people are made better Christians when they are encouraged to read the scriptures for themselves. I'd never encourage them to throw away centuries of religious discussion by relying exclusively on their own opinions and ignoring that of religious authority. If you'd like to argue that it's better when the common man can't read the scriptures he's professing to follow, I'd love to hear your reasoning.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

Thanks again for your well reasoned argument, filled with great counter points to my assertions, and taking the time to compose something so much more insightful than a very long and insubstantial way of saying, "I simply disagree, and I'm not even going to bother saying why, you idiot."


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