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The Press Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

Posted by Rick · November 11th, 2004 · No Comments

No, no. This isn’t another article about George Bush. It’s too early yet for him to have actually started implementing his mandate to ensure that because “there ought to be limits to freedom,” there will be.

Besides, “protest” here isn’t used in the same sense that gives Bush and Rove conniptions. It’s become the norm, lately, to automatically think about large crowds of angry people when we hear the word “protest.” After all, there are lots of angry people in the United States right now who don’t have a President. (I mean, seriously, if Bush believes that 51% is “a mandate,” the rest of us must be invisible to him.)

Instead, this is a play (pun intended) on the phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III, scene 2.

The other day, CNN devoted several minutes to talking about the fact that bloggers are not good sources from which to get news. Apparently, CNN not only thinks that CNN, the Fox show and the others are good sources, but that they are just about the only sources. In particular, they were worked up about bloggers discussing exit polls the night of the election. Thank goodness there weren’t any “news” shows on television discussing exit polls the night of the election!

Oh…what? You don’t say….

Anyway, then, Eric Engberg from CBS chimes in and assures us that “the chances of the bloggers replacing mainstream media are about as good as the parasite replacing the dog it fastens on.” Eric Engberg, “Blogging as Typing, Not Journalism” (November 8, 2004), CBSNews.com. And I’ve seen several other stories that I initially didn’t pay enough mind to — so I didn’t document their location — to blog about.

But one question that comes to mind from seeing story after story like this lately is, “What’s got these guys running scared of bloggers?”

And if bloggers talking about what various “news” shows report are parasites fastened to dogs, what does that make Engberg? At best, he’s a parasite fastened onto the possibly real reporters in the field — and that’s assuming he doesn’t get all his stuff direct from the Big Dog, Associated Press.

Now I don’t know if bloggers will ever replace mainstream media. Personally, I’ve never much considered it. I know I don’t claim to be reporting the news — although I’ve no doubt that even without intending to report news, I do a better job at that than, say, the Fox show. And I don’t know that I ever aspired to replace “the news.” From that, I’d suggest it’s possible that there are many other bloggers out there who likewise don’t aspire to replace “the news.”

If we ever do, though, it won’t be because bloggers suddenly shed the ennui of verbal masturbatory activities “news people” like Engberg or the pretty models they hire to read on CNN believe engulfs the blogosphere. If it ever happens that bloggers replace “the news,” it will be because “the news” as it’s done today has become almost irrelevant; certainly redundant. After all, what are they these days but a bunch of bloggers working in a different medium? There hasn’t been anything approaching the news (note that lack of scare quotes) on television in years.

I mean, seriously, since when did picking two other “reporters” to bring up on side-by-side mini-screens (or even full-screen-sequentially) to pluck two “points of view” out of the empyreal ether and “debate” them while you ask scripted questions become “news”? Since when did “newscasters” pick certain words and then insert pauses after them to indicate that there was some ironic meaning intended when purportedly “reporting” the “news”? Yet this is the daily dish from CNN, the Fox show, MSNBC and other reputed “news” stations.

And to the extent that these folk are just engaging in verbal, videotaped (and occasionally real-time) blogging, online bloggers can do that job better. We can, for example, actually research instead of shooting from the cuff — though I’ll wager that even when we shoot from the cuff, we do even that better than those bloviating bovines.

Like our forebears — the gazette writers, the Thomas Paines, “Publius” or “Cato” — we can dig deeper and be more thought-provoking. Or, like other writers, we can cite — and sometimes link — our sources so our readers can check them for themselves.

Blogging isn’t limited to scribing your day, how you feel, or what movie you might go see Friday. And I seldom, if ever, read blogs that focus on such things. Bloggers range from the frivolous to the serious; from the mundane to the profane to the profound.

And that’s a heckuva lot more than I can say for the clown clones that sit on the “news” shows these days.

Categories: Blogs & Blogging


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