THE BLOGGING REVOLUTION, page 2
By Dan Kennedy
Blogging turns out to be an ideal form for media criticism as well. At a weekly or even a daily paper, you are often overtaken by events. On a blog, you can keep updating as news warrants. By linking to the actual news reports you're critiquing, you offer a new level of transparency. That is, your readers don't have to take your word for it that you're quoting accurately and within context they can see for themselves. And if you make a mistake, you'll find out about it immediately by private e-mail and in comments to your site. I've been blogging regularly since 2002, first for BostonPhoenix.com (my successor, Mark Jurkowitz, now writes the blog, called Media Log ) and now, since this summer, for my own blog, Media Nation .
There are so many media-related blogs online that it is nearly impossible to keep track of them all. I take comfort in something that Josh Marshall, who writes the indispensable Talking Points Memo , once wrote that he saw his role as watching the mainstream media, not reading other blogs. Nevertheless, for media-savvy blogs with a liberal perspective, I recommend Eric Alterman's Altercation and Bob Somerby's Daily Howler . For a conservative point of view, take a look at James Taranto's Best of the Web , part of the Wall Street Journal 's online editorial page, OpinionJournal . I also think highly of Jay Rosen's PressThink . Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, is a founder of the so-called public-journalism movement, which seeks to foster stronger connections between news organizations and their communities. PressThink's agenda is a natural extension of that.
What's next? Anyone who tries to predict the technological future is bound to be wrong. But podcasting a form of do-it-yourself radio that's easily transferred to iPods and other MP3 players could emerge as an alternative to commercial radio. (I wrote about podcasting for the Phoenix last December; click here .) Christopher Lydon's new program, Open Source, is attempting to combine blogging, podcasting and traditional radio in ways that strike me as interesting. Video blogging has been lurking in the background for a couple of years, but is probably several technical advances away from having much of an effect.
Still, we live in a highly compartmentalized culture, and all of us have our specialties. Empowering though blogging may be, ultimately it makes no more sense for the average citizen to produce her own media than it would be to grow her own food or refine her own gasoline.
The late social critic Neil Postman once said that the front page of the New York Times is essential because, for better or worse, it gives us a broadly accepted version of what is important in the world on any given day. At the moment that I'm writing this, Technorati claims to be tracking 15.9 million blogs. How will you decide what you need to know? How will you even decide how to decide? I'll take a Times , please.