Friday, February 18, 2005

Seems like everyone is talking about...

...blogs and bloggers.

How about an Iranian cleric who's a blogger?
Blogging might not sound an appropriate hobby for a senior Iranian government official, particularly one who is a Muslim cleric.

But presidential adviser Mohammad Ali Abthai has turned the practice of writing Internet journals, or blogging, into a powerful tool against the reformist government's hardline foes and a means to reach out to the country's disenchanted youth.

Abtahi, 45, a mid-ranking cleric who last year quit his post as vice-president, says he learns more chatting with young people on the Internet than he does in any government report.
College students, of course, are into blogging and commenting on the blogging phenomena. Gen-whatever-they-are, even if they are conservative students from the midst of Middle America, see the value.
The "new media" is revolutionizing the way Americans receive and perceive current events. Of course I'm referring to bloggers, the hermits who toil away day and night maintaining their Web logs, a sort of online diary for the public good. Forty years ago, TV replaced newspapers as the new, visual media, and the popularization of television had a dramatic impact on public opinion and public policy. For example, TV news personalities opposed U.S. policy in Vietnam, broadcasting body bags and burned-out villages into homes each night, until the war became a "quagmire." Now, blogging has led to two interesting reversals - the return of the primacy of the written word and of reporting that supports those in power. Today, bloggers are helping Bush and the Republican Party cement their current hold on power.

On one hand, conservative bloggers continuously discredit traditional adversaries of the Republican Party in TV media, immediately publishing rebuttals when TV media errs in judgment. On the other hand, left-leaning bloggers pull the Democratic Party to the left, therefore farther from mainstream America. With traditionally liberal TV sources illegitimized, and an ever more out-of-touch rival party, the Republicans face an increasingly favorable future.
All of us can publish easily now. And the power of that can change events. Even CNN bent recently.
CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan resigned Friday, saying the controversy over his remarks about the deaths of journalists in Iraq threatened to tarnish the network he helped build.

Jordan conceded that his remarks at the January 27 World Economic Forum were "not as clear as they should have been." Several participants at the event said Jordan told the audience U.S. forces had deliberately targeted journalists -- a charge he denied.

"After 23 years at CNN, I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq," Jordan said in a letter to colleagues....

The controversy over Jordan's remarks gained steam last week, with bloggers posting their accounts of what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an event attended by political, economic, academic and media figures from around the world.

The Davos organizers have said the session, like most at the forum, was off-the-record, and they have refused to release a transcript to preserve their commitment.
And commentary about the role of blogging is everywhere, even in fun-filled Tahoe.
The Internet strikes again. This week's blogger-prompted resignation of CNN top executive Eason Jordan implies the Internet has become a source for information as influential as traditional news media.

"The ease and cheapness of access puts Internet news on a different level from traditional news," said Robin Koerner, co-founder of, which gathers news and editorials about America from newspapers around the world. It falls in the category of sites like or, which package relevant headlines into one, easily read page.

"It's the convenience factor," Koerner said.

Bloggers - a blurring of the moniker "Weblog" - as well as forums, chatrooms and alternative media are flourishing on the Internet. These sites often insert topics into mainstream discussion which traditional media choose to ignore.
Where will it end? Well, that's a great question.
WITH the recent toppling of CBS's Dan Rather and now CNN's top news executive, Eason Jordan, I think we can declare without fear of contradiction that rigor mortis is settling over the carcass of the Fourth Estate.

At least as we once knew it.

I make this pronouncement without pleasure and, in fact, suggest that we're really witnessing a double funeral. One is for traditional journalism as the omnipotent gatekeeper of information. As bloggers — authors of Web logs — have gleefully pointed out the past several days, everyone with access to the Internet is now a journalist.

Given the "instanaeity" of the bloggers' electronic encampment, known as the "blogosphere" — enabling real-time posting of news and commentary — newspapers and even broadcast media have become the news cycle's Sunday drivers.

As a longtime observer of the blog phenomenon — awed by the volcanic energy and talent that erupts by the nanosecond and flows without pause — I'm a fan. But I'm also wary of such unbridled power. For all their attractive swashbuckling and bravura, bloggers also can become a cyber-mob that acts, as mobs do, without conscience or restraint.

Thus, the other funeral is, I fear, for our freedom of speech. Not the kind we once worried would be quashed by government jackboots, but the sort that restricts the very thing bloggers represent — the freewheeling, unfettered expression of thoughts and ideas without fear of censure. Or without the life-altering, career-busting personal demolitions we've witnessed recently.
The power of the written word: do we not have a responsibility to use it wisely?

No comments:

Post a Comment