Blogs. I've been scanning as many of them as I can, and it's amazing how many of them there are.
In the wake of the hurricane, I read an article on the NY Times website the other day about the role blogs are playing in reporting news as it's happening, virtually on the scene, in the trenches, often by "ordinary people"--i.e. not journalists. There are many gripping accounts posted by bloggers of what is going on in New Orleans right now.
Blogs are an exciting development, but they're also kind of scary. Especially when you consider that the traditional checks and balances for truth in reporting don't exist.
Yeah, I know, I can hear people objecting with comments about the recent scandals in some big media outlets where reporters and editors were caught playing fast and loose with the truth. But the vast majority of journalists are very serious about their profession and Truth-- with a capital "T"-- is the number one value.
Blogs scare me a little because there are no rules, no checks and balances. It's too easy for them to masquerade as truth, or as serious journalism and news reporting, when they really are not, in most circumstances. And I'm afraid the news-consuming public, having grown accustomed to the disturbing blend of news and commentary prevalent on the cable "news" channels, is losing the ability to discern the difference.
Here's a "for instance." I roamed onto one site, called punditeria.com. The blogger, under a headline that screams "THE quote of the disaster! SUPPRESSED BY ALL NEWS OUTLETS" claims that the major media "even Fox News" have not reported a quote by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin complaining about the federal government's response to the disaster. Then he says that he's been told that a couple of people in New Orleans reported that they heard the mayor say these things on a local radio station. The blogger puts the purported comments in quotation marks, even as he admits "this is a close paraphrase, I am told" and then attributes a quote to the mayor of New Orleans in which the mayor supposedly used the "F word" five times in talking about the President of the United States and the U.S. government.
So, somebody told him that somebody else heard the mayor say these things in a radio interview. And he not only reports it as fact, he puts the comments in QUOTES, and then decries the mainstream media for participating in a "cover up'! (EVEN Fox News!)
That's the thing about blogs.
On this blog, I've been sort of disheartened by some of the comments, which have been on the level of name-calling. I was hoping that the people of Riverhead could engage in a discussion of current events and issues that consisted of more than zinging one-liners calling government officials nit-wits and weasels. I think we're capable of more thoughtful discussion than that. There are plenty of message boards out there where that's the standard fare, and if that's what you're interested in, I'd invite you to check them out. In my first post, I said I would delete comments that stoop to that level and I intend to do that if it keeps up.