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The Future of Blogging

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In his book, Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart (2007), Pat Buchanan complains we're being drowned in a multitude of voices precisely when focus on a single view or perspective may be the most needed. Interestingly, Buchanan singles out the Internet as the main culprit.

It's the unanticipated consequence of a medium which, by anyone's early estimate, ought to have fostered communications, information-exchange, and meaningful dialog. The “blogging” phenomenon seems to lie at the very heart of the new medium, about to replace the more conventional means of news and information dissemination (such as newspapers or TV), if not the very profession of journalism itself. Witness, for instance, the possible folding of the Chicago Tribune, that icon of the dailies!

Everyone is blogging nowadays, which cuts into the market share traditionally defined by the consumers of print media; and while the newspapers are scrambling to convert their content to online editions, the advertising dollars have not kept pace. The bulletin- or the community boards of old have given way to a much more dynamic, interactive mode of communication. It would seem that only the sky is the limit and that possibilities are endless.

In short, there’re lots of interesting voices out there and points of view. Almost by definition, the bloggers are a highly-motivated bunch – intelligent, introspective, and vocal. It’s a matter of natural selection, you could say. One has to feel that he or she has something important to say. Why bother to go through inordinate time and effort otherwise?

Still, there is a downside: since everyone’s vying for attention these days, one’s voice is liable to get lost in the shuffle. All that clamor! So Buchanan’s complaint is not exactly off the wall for when taken to the limit, the end result could well be that more and more of us are talking, fewer and fewer are listening.

Welcome to the Tower of Babel — the modern-day version!

With these remarks in mind, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to Blogcritics online magazine – “a community of writers and readers from around the globe.” There’s a selfish reason of course, for my own writings and website stand to benefit from greater exposure therefore, but there is another issue at stake: it’s an opportunity, at the same time, to become a part of something larger.

There’s always a fine line to be drawn between unity and diversity, between what’s essential and what’s only marginally interesting, between promoting the public good and that which passes for good entertainment. In the interest of inclusiveness, I suppose, to say nothing of staying afloat, all tastes must be catered to and no opinion can be ignored; yet, some kind of editorial policy, or point of focus, is a must or we’re going to run into “the Tower of Babel” syndrome — ultimately, a magazine that caters to everyone caters to no one. I believe that Blogcritics does a fairly credible job at consolidation, at providing the right kind of balance between the two extremes.

May it continue to do so in the future!

That’s why I urge you to support Blogcritics with your hard-earned dollar. If you like what you see, if you appreciate the quality of the writing, the treatment and the analysis of topics, if it strikes you as having reached the right kind of mix between providing entertainment and addressing what you feel are your most vital concerns, make Blogcritics your online magazine. Most importantly, I ask you to join the community of readers and writers, to respond to what you find challenging or interesting, to give us your feedback. You’re an intelligent audience or you wouldn’t be reading this post or any other. Become a part of the already highly motivated community of bloggers to help us see our way about. We need one another.

We’re facing hard times, our country and the world about to fall apart at the seams. There had never been a greater need for creative ideas and solutions. Together, we may yet be successful and pull ourselves by our own bootstraps. Apart, we stand no chance in hell.

Become involved! Support your online magazine, the next-to-certain medium of the future and a viable forum for exchanging ideas, information and whatnot. Let it carve the niche it rightly deserves. We’re running out of resources and out of time. So don’t stand on the sidelines. Together, we may make a difference.

Above all, let the dialog continue.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • http://w3o.blogspot.com Janette Toral

    I just started reading this blog a few days ago and beginning to enjoy the diversity of opinions from the bloggers and avid readers. I’m sure this site has a bright future ahead.

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    hhhmmm… blogging… A very interesting phenom.

    What is cool is that it gives the common man access to mass media. Just like the music, ‘be-ins’, ‘love-ins’, protests of the 60s did.

    Amongst all the opinions out there, there is a linear thought. Readers or Eric and Phil can deconstruct all that is written and discover the common thought and focus in on the power of the message if it is to be taken to the next level. Might want to talk to Obama about that.

    It is a new voice, a new world. But then, it is the same old thing with a new way to do it.

    I need coffee. More on this subject later….

    best,
    DM

  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/zz Z.Z. Bachman

    Well written article from the point of view of a fellow author and self publisher. Blogcritics has provided the authoring community not only a forum for divergent opinion but a symbiotic relationship that deserves another WELL DONE for 2008 !!

    _______________________________________
    ZZ Bachman – ZardozZ News & Satire / RSS

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I don’t see how blogs can replace or even be stronger than other outlets of news. While there are some journalists out there with their own websites, you cannot assume that all blogs and bloggers want to be news sources. I read newspapers and watch TV to get my ideas. The vast majority of bloggers just want to write and have fun, and aren’t trying to make a living or even a paycheck out of it.

    Much like old newsies like to incorrectly paint blogs with a broad brush, you seem to be doing the same thing. Therefore, this…

    “some kind of editorial policy, or point of focus, is a must or we’re going to run into “the Tower of Babel” syndrome”

    …will be impossible and unnecessary. This seems dangerously close to advocating regulation of what can be said on the Internet.

  • http://www.napervillemom.blogspot.com/ naperville mom

    Blogs’re just a mode of expression for perfectly ordinary people. I fail to understand why it should/ can replace traditional media if the latter produces relevant, accountable news material.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    A quick response to Matthew and “naperville mom”:

    You both raise valid points. Initially, I was going to respond in the “Comment” section. I realize, however, that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to many of your objections, as well as to my own piece which, for lack of space, perhaps, had left many things unsaid (or between the lines as it were). So please look forward to a sequel, “Response to My Critics” in a couple of days.

    RN

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    If that’s how you communicate on the Internet, then I will reply to all your articles with articles.

    “lack of space”

    You do realize, good sir, that the page just keeps getting longer if more text is added to the bottom?

  • bliffle

    The problem with the internet and blogs in particular is that there are too many opinions and not enough facts. People seem to think that opinions can replace facts if you just keep repeating them enough, and if you recruit a bunch of other people to echo your opinion.

    But it is not so.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Fair enough, Mr. Sussman. First off, I don’t believe I was painting bloggers with a broad brush. I was referring to individuals – and I believe there are a great many of them – who do so because they feel that many of the issues we’re facing are not being addressed, or at least addressed adequately. The mainstream press, whether in print or other media, were doing it once, at the inception that is – e.g., Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite – but that time is long gone. The same with alternative press which was at the cutting edge originally until it became mainstream. There are always exceptions of course – e.g. Timothy Eagan (New York Times), Nat Hentoff (Village Voice)- but these are dinosaurs. By and large, the coverage you find these days is lukewarm, lacking in conviction and passion. Anyways, it’s inadequate and I’ll provide some examples in the next session.

    So in a way, I was merely expressing my faith in the Internet as a new medium with (so far) limitless possibilities. We’ve already seen how the Internet had revolutionized fundraising, for example, or creating a grass movement (as in Mr. Obama’s case). Well, it could also be used in order to help shape public opinion, to create public support behind some viable idea or issue, even create of movement of sorts if need be.

    I don’t agree, by the way, with a point of view which has it that facts speak for themselves (see bliffle’s concern immediately above). We always need cogent analysis to make sense of them. The problem today is that everything falls under the name of spin, for which reason any news analysis or interpretation gets discounted as suffering from ulterior motives. Well, I believe we have to distinquish here between kinds of motives. And I don’t think that writings which aim at solving or at least understanding our problems should fall into that catchall category: they may be regarded as misguided or on the wrong track, but disingenuous? I’m not running for public office or have a personal agenda.

    Lastly, let me assure you that I wasn’t trying to censor the Internet. It’s a democratic medium where everyone can have his or her say. Sometimes, however, we may need a sharper focus in order to put a point across. So my reference to “editorial policy(is)” was, I grant it, a poor choice of words.

    PS: For an example of a focused website, why don’t you take a look at one by Catherine Austin Fitts (referenced in the main article). Personally, I think Ms Fitts is doing great public service

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    A belated response to Matthew T Sussman:

    I was going to provide an example of the inadequacy of mainstream media. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but the following (I think) will do.

    Only yesterday, the Dan Rather story resurfaced again on NPR radio – concerning the lawsuit, that is, and the entire affair surrounding Mr. Rather’s firing. (See video, Listen Now or visit the site)

    As regards the first item, I have mixed feelings. Mr. Rather doesn’t need the money and the matter was brought to court rather late, which may or may not be a technicality; if he’s doing it, however, in order to expose the hypocrisy at CBS – and all the indications are that that’s the case – then I am all for it.

    To this day, I fail to understand the journalistic oath or code of ethics that Rather had violated. Was he negligent about checking and double-checking the sources? Was he aware of the possibility of forgery? We all know one way or another that George Dubya received preferential treatment while in the National Guard and that the story was, in its skeletal form at least, true. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out. And what is the proper role and responsibility of an anchor? Daniel Schorr, also of CBS and a former colleague, has some interesting comments on the matter. (See NPR video “Thoughts on the Dan Rather Case,” of Sept 23, 2007: Listen Now.) In essence, Rather wasn’t willing to admit that he wasn’t the author of the story, only the narrator, and that the entire CBS journalistic machinery was behind it. In short, his ego was too big, for which he took the fall.

    There were charges of forgery of the substantiating documents, of Rather and the entire network harboring a political agenda, and enormous pressure from both right-wing bloggers and conservative talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the like, to kill the story at the outset. It didn’t help any that the story broke out just eight weeks before Election Day, making these charges credible. The end result was that the story was killed and Rather and CBS capitulated under the pressure.

    Any lawyers or experts on journalist oath out there to clear this up for me?

    Anyways, it shows as far as I am concerned, the extent to which even monolith news organizations like CBS as being vulnerable to political expediency and climate, In Rather’s own words, “CBS broke with long-standing tradition at CBS News and elsewhere of standing up to political pressure, and, there’s no joy in saying it, they caved … in an effort to placate their regulators in Washington,” Rather charges in an interview.

    Take it for what it’s worth, it definitely points to the strength of the Internet and blogging in general. Thus far, we’re free to express our opinion and there are no repercussions.

    RN

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Roger, I think you’re having trouble finding an example because you’re trying to overcompare the two. If we’re talking about CBS and one person with a laptop, then we have two different entities with several mutually exclusive goals for each.

    NBC writer and ex-blogger Michael Schur summed it up perfectly when he said, “The MSM does wonderful things the internet cannot. The internet does wonderful things the MSM cannot. Why is everybody yelling?”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I agree with you, Matthew. There is nothing to replace “hard news” and most of us don’t have resources to be able to do so on a regular basis.
    Catherine Austin Fitts speaks though on the pages of her Solari blog of local communities forming their own websites, where they hash and rehash problems that are facing them – a kind of equivalent to Ross Perot’s “Town Hall Meetings” on a local, place-based basis. This is one of her solutions, and a viable tool, for withdrawing the community’s financial resources from centralized institution on Wall Street – such as BofA or AT&T – which only take from the community, and reinvesting same in local businesses, etc., as part of what she calls “permaculture.”

    I admit it’s kind of futuristic and contingent on the continuation of the meltdown. And at first, I was very skeptical of those ideas insofar that they seemed utopian to me, capable of being implemented on too small a scale to make a difference – something on the order of the hippie communities of the 60s which comprised only of die-hards. If, however, the meltdown continues, it’s conceivable as a possible scenario.

    As to example I was looking for, only a few days ago a story broke out re: continuation of exec compensations and bonuses to the banks which had been bailed out; also, regarding the absence of any disclosure requirements as to how the bailout monies are going to be used. It was a very lukewarm presentation, to say the least.

    I know news is news, but where is the outrage?

    Roger

  • http://www.michaeldmiller.wordpress.com mike miller

    We are the teachers in the new world!