Random thoughts on blogging

Back in the day when the only news was the old media (traditional newspapers, TV, news wire services), everything was filtered by arbiters of acceptable opinion.  Many was the time when I pulled my hair reading nonsense in some newspaper, wanting to call the reporter and ask, “what the f*ck were you thinking?”  I wrote letters to the editor and some of them got published.  I remember the New York Times calling me to confirm stuff about my background that only the FBI would know.  Even then they polished my comments and turned them into digestible sound bites.

The internet and the blogosphere has completely changed the rules of the game.  The “trad” media has yet to catch up, never mind comprehend the changes which have taken place.  Our sister site, the West Seattle Blog, is an example of people who not only comprehend the new medium but are doing an end run on the trad media.  Today, there are literally millions of blogs, accessible to anyone with an internet connection.  And the highest rated internet sites are themselves blogs:  yes blogs draw more readers than the New York Times or the Washington Post.  It is hardly an understatement to state that we are in an information revolution, perhaps as profound as the invention of the Gutenberg Press.

So what does this have to do with White Center?  Plenty.  News, events, anything that happens in our community is immediately communicated and it is communicated without the establishment media deciding what is or is not “newsworthy.”   Personally, I think this is a great development.  Democracy actually returning to its roots.

Which brings me to my critics.  I have been posting on various topics of concern to the White Center community.  In the process of doing so, I state, frankly and openly, what I believe.  I am not asking anybody to like what I have to say.  People have certainly expressed their chagrin over various political positions that I have taken.  To them, I say, in the spirit of democracy, raise your voice and dissent.  But don’t tell me to shut up!  Wrong man.  Really wrong.  If you really feel that strongly, then start your own blog.  I certainly hope that people will see this as the commons in which all can express (reasoned) views.

So now that I’ve said my piece, have at it.  Just try and be civil and smart when posting, which is more than I can say for my own views.  Peace.

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5 Responses to “Random thoughts on blogging”

  1. Great article. I for one think Blogs are great but I do not believe they completely replace traditional media, simply because there appears to be very little accountability on the internet. Perhaps it is naive of me, but I want to believe that if you openly published lies in the newspaper, you would be fired, fine or at least publicly humiliated. With blogs there is that level of anonymity which worries me when you can flat out lie or worse attempt to completely destroy somebody or something with very little facts other than saying “I believe…”. I also understand that blogs give anybody a public voice, and in a democracy that is a good thing. I guess we as the readers, need to understand the motivation of the person doing the publishing and base our trust on that.

  2. Ricardo, thanks for this post. I was a little surprised when someone commented here on WCN recently that they thought you shouldn’t be offering your opinion. I guess that person didn’t bother to read the “about” link at the top of the left column which states very clearly that WCN “will feature its contributors’ opinions as well as straightforward reporting”.

    As for accountability and factual reporting on blogs–some blogs/bloggers are known for that and some aren’t and it really is up to the reader to figure out which is which. I’ve been reading and writing on blogs almost daily for well over 5 years and it is pretty easy for me to usually determine an opinion piece from a just-the-facts type of post. Also, over time, certain bloggers get know for their credibility.

    People new to blogging often have a difficult time sorting out the wheat from the chaff….especially on blogs using software like Scoop which allows anyone to write a story. For example, Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/ is the largest political blog in the world with an average of over 700,000 readers a day. The front page writers who post on the left side of the site are almost always very credible, but on the right are “diaries”, stories which can be posted by anyone. Many of those are very credible, others not so much. Often blogs are sort of self-regulating. I’ve seen many times when someone posted diary on Daily Kos that wasn’t factual, that the people who commented provided links to the facts.

    Anyway, I appreciate that WCN exists and I recommend you keep doing what you are doing. I enjoy the diversity of opnions.

  3. Hear, hear.

    Don’t like the message? Print your own pamphlet.

  4. Just to clarify something about “blogs.”

    “Blogging” is a publishing format. Absolutely nothing more, and nothing less. Unfortunately the word “blog” is to some degree taken to mean “just some site where I publish whatever.”

    At West Seattle Blog, for example, the site which my husband and I operate as a commercial, advertiser-supported, journalist-run news/information/discussion site, we report original news coverage for West Seattle. I also am involved with White Center Now as “news editor” and do original reporting here, but this is a different type of website, which also includes opinion and multiple contributors, not to mention it’s currently a noncommercial enterprise (we did not accept or solicit ads on West Seattle Blog until we had been publishing the site for two years and had a sizable readership – in the thousands – that would make it worth advertisers’ time and money).

    Regarding your questions on accountability: Newspapers publish readers’ opinion in print as well – letters to the editor, as well as “rant/rave” type features, among others. Almost all “old media” sources (newspapers, TV stations, radio stations) are also now publishing reader comments on their websites, and in many cases forum posts. This is by no means a “blog” publishing format phenomenon. Here in this area, the Seattle Times finally just added comment capabilities.

    On all websites, by federal law, third-party opinion like comments is the liability of the person who posts it, not the site operator (Communications Decency Act). Beyond that, different sites have different rules – on WSB, for example, we have several rules designed to keep comment threads from deteriorating into complete and total cesspools of crudeness – but many other sites operated by organizations larger than ours (including at least one local daily paper and one local weekly paper) do not.

    Just a few things to point out. But first and foremost, it’s important not to lump all “blogs” together – like “newspaper,” the word “blog” signifies a publishing format, NOT a type of online content.

  5. Ron Richardson Says:

    Ricardo, I enjoyed the”random thoughts on blogging’ post and the responses to it. To me this process of statement and followup discussion is what sets apart blogging from most other media sources. The door is open for folks to react, share, and disagree. The comments, and those of Tracy in particular, put blogging into perspective. The first amendment guarantees freedom of the press and the internet is the easiest way yet for folks who don’t own their own newspaper or radio station or TV station to offer their own two bits on a topic. Usually, but not always, putting a thought down on a keyboard requires one to think through a subject and make some sort of sense of it. Thanks for the chance to do so.