Saturday, April 08, 2006

Balanced Blog-Bashing

People who don't read blogs lump all of us into one basket and add "Deranged" to its description. Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe does this today on the treatment of Jill Carroll by the blogs:

I AM SURE that Jill Carroll and her family are too busy inhaling the sweet spring air of freedom to spend time sniffing out the pollution in the blogosphere. Anyone who spent three months imagining the grimmest fate for this young journalist in the hands of terrorists can't get too upset when a little Internet posse goes after her scalp.

Nevertheless, this is not a good moment for the bustling, energetic Wild West of the new Internet media. Remember when a former CBS executive described bloggers as guys in pajamas writing in their living rooms? Well, it seems that many have only one exercise routine: jumping to conclusions.

In the hours between captivity and true freedom, Carroll was seen in one propaganda film describing the mujahideen as ''good people fighting an honorable fight" and in another interview saying she was never threatened. An online jeering section bought it hook, line, and sinker without waiting to hear that the videos were made under threat. As Alex Jones of Harvard's Shorenstein Center said, ''They were gulled by a clever piece of propaganda and ought to be ashamed of themselves."

The printouts on my desk describe the 28-year-old journalist, a hostage and victim for 82 terrifying days, as something between Patty Hearst and Baghdad Jane, between a traitor and ''Princess Jill." TBone posted a potshot, calling Carroll ''a liar" and the kidnapping ''a total scam." PA Pundits said that ''I still just can't get past her being (for the most part) unharmed." And Debbie Schlussel called her a ''spoiled brat America-hater."

Not only are bloggers rude and liars but blogs are also unreliable:

If newspapers are the first rough draft of history, a blog is like reading a never-ending draft as it's being written and published, mostly unedited, without standards or correction boxes. Defenders will tell you that blogs are ''fact-checked" in the rough and tumble of the marketplace by other bloggers. But don't count on it.

I don't think that Ellen Goodman reads blogs, not even my lovely little one! Now I have tears in my eyes. But I never bashed Jill Carroll and neither did any other liberal blogger that I know of. It was a purely right-wing smear campaign and not much different from what goes on in the right-wing talk radio.

Don't paint us all with the same brush, Ellen. Some of us wear white hats (or helmets as the case might be) to mark us as "good" bloggers. Some of us get up every morning to wage to valiant battle against the forces of evil. I'm beginning to sound like George Bush but you get the point: not all the blogs are the same.

Though Ellen is right in saying that nobody should count on blogs for credible news. I don't even count on the mainstream media for those, and that's why I spend so much time listening to foreign radio newscasts and stuff. So that I can come back to this here blog and edit everything to be perfect without telling you about it.

More seriously, blogs were never meant to take the role of news providers. What they do quite well is to bring up topics which tend to be buried on page eighteen of some major newspapers or which tend not to be talked about at all in the political programs. Blogs also offer alternative perspectives, some expert, some eye-witness, some just looney. All this can be useful, and so can the fact-checking enterprises of blogs and their readers. Just think of the Domenech-case.

But I wish that all blogs weren't treated as being the same. I wonder how Goodman would feel if I attributed to her things which I read in the Washington Times, a Moonie newspaper, just because both her paper and the Times are part of the traditional media?