The amount of information in the chapter on blogging was incredible. It would take me at least a full day to reread it several times and go through the though process of dissecting and attempting to make sense of all the nuggets contained there in. A few of the notable ideas or thoughts I came away with.
Blogging as citizen journalism, is that an accurate metaphor we can truthfully use to explain the raw amount of data that any human being can spew out onto the internet through a blog? The book would lean towards a yes. I would tend to agree but through the lens that every person has an angle or a bias. I can think of two reasons why this itself is an issue. First, it is not immediately obvious or evident that the author has a certain skew or agenda inherent in their writing. But the truth is that no matter who you are, your personality goes into the work you do. Maybe if blogs came with a disclaimer about the person who wrote it, that would help readers have a better idea of what they were getting into. I feel that this is important because inherently we want to believe what we read. Call it blind faith or a natural fallacy. But as long as someone else said it and posted it, than it might as well be the gospel.
Second, I feel that the word journalist holds a certain amount of credibility and professionalism that an amateur blogger simply isn’t entitled to. Certainly the history of journalists suggests that there is a certain amount of training, experience, judgment from experience, and ethical standards that should be adhered too. I cannot help but feel that if I called my first hand reporting of any event citizen journalism, it would be glorifying the true facts: I did some amateur reporting. Maybe the connotation is what makes me leery when I hear anyone describe themselves or their work as “citizen journalism.” Let the work speak for itself and by and large if the community decides at some point to bestow that upon you, who am I to argue with the masses. If not for logic sake I ask this, think about what the word journalist means to you and the impact it has upon your psyche. Now think of that serial tweeter we all know. What if they started a blog and decided to call themselves citizen journalists for the sake they are reporting news, which is to say facts about there own lives. Where can we realistically draw that line and say that by todays accepted standards in our society, they are not right in claiming that title? Looking over the chapter, I know that I can’t refute their claim. But I want to.
Now moving on. Another notion of blogging that stuck in my head was the matter of WikiLeaks and especially the classified documents that were leaked by Bradley Manning. For anyone who is familiar with the story, the quick synopsis is that he was an intelligence analyst for the US Army and basically had a conscientious objection to the work he was doing and decided to leak the documents he could get access too. I am going to be splitting hairs here but I personally think that in instances such as this, organizations that stand to benefit from this type of action by individuals should not have the protection of the First Amendment. Let us look at a few different scenarios here. Hypothetically if Bradley Manning had not worked for the government but had worked in the private industry and leaked classified information from a competitor, the company in question that had received the material and Mr. Manning would both be at risk for legal action taken against them in the name of intellectual property. In the case of the government, the documents were compared to the Pentagon Papers in scope and significance. Although the information contained in them might be valuable to the public, the person who obtained the documents did so in an unethical and illegal manner. More so, the picture here is that the majority of the documents contained little to no real usable information that was pertinent to the general public at all. Yet in the name of citizen journalism, WikiLeaks published every single document in its entirety. Which goes back to my first point, what was the real reason for “uncovering” these documents at all? Maybe I am being overly cynical here but I see some sensationalism and making a martyr out of Mr. Manning in this whole fiasco that is unwarranted and sets a bad example of what citizen journalism really should be about. If you want to undermine the government or think it needs to stop being so secretive, then you should ask yourself the incredibly hard questions that goes with the kinds of answers you may get. Do I really want to know what the government does and why? And am I willing to give up my comfortable existence now to have a fully open government with no secrets? Here is a final tidbit of food for thought on why the government is so secretive and honestly needs to be.
Contrary to popular opinion now because Americans have notoriously short term memories, after the attacks of September 11, 2001 the Senate and House nearly unanimously agreed to give the government new and nearly unfettered powers to access and monitor its citizens through nearly any form of surveillance, essentially trading personal privacy for security. A poll was conducted at the time by the Pew Research Center that showed the majority of Americans supported the measure at the time, knowing what it meant.
Not all blogs are created equal, and therefore under the same logical reasoning, not all bloggers should be protected under the umbrella of the 1st Amendment.
Well if that wasn’t some dark and heavy sauce on your spaghetti how about them Patriots? Oh wait, they choked worse then the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. I thought I was going to see the Ray Lewis retirement party. But moving on really quickly I did want to say a few more words about blogging.
Blogging is a beautiful thing, a gift I might add. In spite of all the flaws I nitpicked earlier, the very same attributes I bemoaned are the very ones that make our country great. Blogging is a new new media medium that I feel will only grow stronger throughout the next decade. I personally have blogs that I posted on myspace years ago that I look back onto every now and then just to bring back memories and to recall who I was back then. Blogging can fill a multitude of uses, my start was merely as a convenient online journal. The added element of the internet gave it another dimension that my friends could comment and help me to see flaws in my logic and reasoning or offer support or admonishment as they saw fit. Blogging has come a long way since my days of myspace. But the ability to let your voice be heard is empowering. That is bold and is something I would strongly encourage everyone to try at some point in their life. One of my favorite lines I love to tell people is that “everyone has a story.” Blogging is just one way to get that story from them.