It’s been an odd and interesting week for the media. My week began with this story in my mailbox. In it, Charles Cooper, of CNET News, reviews Andrew Keen’s new book ‘ The Culture of the Amateur’. The tome appears to be a cautionary tale on the evils of citizen journalism to western civilization as we know it.
While the book does not debut until June, some excerpts make it clear that Keen is not so keen on today’s blogging landscape. In fact, he sees the situation as quite bleak. We bloggers, apparently, are ” collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture”. Keen, being a good cultural elitist, also ensures that he covers the omnipresent danger to our youth…”These days, kids can’t tell the difference between credible news by objective professional journalists and what they read on joeshmoe.blogspot.com.”
Not really knowing or caring what some Brit mucky muck thought about my sins on the internet, I rattled off a nice little rant to my wife over the story and got on with my day. Then the Imus story broke.
Don, in the crotchety, faux coolness that only he has, took a big fat bite of some shoe leather. He is a cagey veteran at putting his foot in his mouth. I think Imus can probably differentiate shoe brands by taste at this point. Well, the media feeding frenzy was on at that point, party people. Every media personality had to trot out with their two cents. From racism to rap, the entire mainstream media collectively swam in the sewer that is Don Imus’ mouth for nearly a week. And their efforts did not go unrewarded. Political and economic pressures cost Don Imus not one but two jobs.
(Author’s note: I’ve intentionally omitted any links to the Imus story. Because honestly, I fear that if one more page gets indexed with the keywords Imus, Sharpton or Jackson, the internet may implode under the collective weight of their ignorance.)
Then the irony hit me this morning before my first cup of coffee. My weekly visit to the “O’Reilly Radar” rewarded me with a gift. Tim O’Reilly and other bloggers have produced a “Draft Bloggers Code of Conduct“. This movement was initiated partly in response to a rather heated and nasty exchange among several site operators. So, when confronted with an unpleasant situation, what did bloggers do. They contacted the parties, acted as mediators and proposed a solution. Nobody was fired. Nobody was boycotted. The offending parties were dealt with in a professional and appropriate manner. And in the spirit of democracy, the Code of Conduct is open source, so all parties can contribute to the discourse. No monopoly of opinion in the blogosphere, folks.
So, I have come full circle.
Given the events of the past week, which group is actually ‘corrupting and confusing popular opinion‘? Can I truly say that giving a media bullhorn to panderers and race hustlers constitutes ‘credible news by objective professional journalists‘?
I’ll certainly give Mr. Keen’s book a read when it is released. For now I’ll simply posit that perhaps the opinions of the populace aren’t necessarily ‘popular’ with his crowd. But I’ll take an objective citizen journalist over an elitist with an agenda and a microphone any day.