More on blogging and journalism -- and trust . . .
Does anyone else find it ironic that we're conducting a discussion of the trustworthiness of blogs by means of a blog? If I'm to believe some of the statements I see here, I shouldn't believe the statements I see here.
It's also ironic that I find myself playing the role of devil's advocate/apologist for blogs, since I very seldom look at blogs for the kind of journalism -- or even the kind of topics -- that I would expect to find in a newspaper. About the only significant exception was during the early war period, when I believe I learned more about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq through firsthand blogs than through the mainstream US media.
Personally, I suspect that the reports of the death of the Press are exaggerated, but I certainly share Mike Boehm's concerns. I would suggest that "How much is information worth?" is not the only question. We need to also ask, "How will we know?" Trust is central. Without claiming these questions have been resolved by any means, I note that many people buy freely from web sites and ebay who wouldn't have dreamed of it five or ten years ago.
You've noted this a couple of times, so I wanted to let you know we're listening. You're right, it is ironic. Or it would be if we were talking about all bloggers. But we're not.
Many bloggers, for instance Terry Teachout and Alex Ross, are as good at what they do as anyone who works in conventional newspapers. There are others, as Teachout has pointed out numerous times, who are not part of the media machine, but who nevertheless offer insight and careful commentary on music, visual arts, fiction, etc.
The bloggers Ivins had in mind, and I would guess that Mike Boehm takes issue with, are the armchair journalists who opine from their keyboards but don't do, and wouldn't know how to do, the work of shoe-leather journalism.
I presume Molly and Mike don't mind a little pontification from bloggers since people have been shouting into the void in the letters-to-the-editor pages and the op-ed pages of newspapers for a long time. That's what Americans do really well. We let you know what we're thinking.
The concern, which I share with Mike and the late, great Molly, is the apparent movement -- or least the abundant yammering right now, hopefully faddish -- regarding bloggers, and other "citizen journalists," ushering in some kind of new era of journalism, especially political journalism.
But voicing an opinion based in facts gathered by reporters on the street does not a journalist make.
I agree with you that analysis, commentary, observation and insight are valuable and I applaude and encourage each. If more people offer intelligent commentary on the communities they live in, more power to them. At risk of pointing out the obvious, that's what we do here at Flyover: We offer our perspective on the arts and arts journalism from our vantage points in the American Outback. Granted, some of us might offer some reporting but nothing like what we do for the newspapers we write for.
Again, writing an opinion is different from reporting the facts, but not too different. And as Ivins noted, opinion writing should be approached with the same schemata (though I'm sure she wouldn't go anywhere near that word; I'm not sure I should go near it either) used by the reporter covering a seven-car pile-up on the highway -- balanced perspectives, established credibility, accuracy, fairness, piercing the veil if need be, being able to impartially see if a veil exists in the first place that might need piercing, etc.
Writing opinion is about providing clarity, synthesis and, ideally, about extracting a clear sense of meaning from the ambiguities of reality for the benefit of others, not oneself.
Molly Ivins always gave voice to the issues most important to those who had no voice. That's what made her special. That's what separates her from the Blogger Legion. That's why people, many who shared her sympathies and points-of-view, found they could trust her.
That said, this report suggests that blogging may be a fast fading trend, as least among the quick-hit opinion-mongers, as Molly might say.
Time will tell.
With sincerity and respect,
Bloggers We Love
Bridgette Redman and Lansing Theater
Drew McManus' "Neo Classical" at the Partial Observer
Marc Moss (Missoula, MT artist)
Mary Louise Schumacher's "Art City"
Other Great Sites
American Composers Orchestra
Arts & Letters Daily
Center for Arts and Culture
Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive
National Arts Journalism Program
NEA Arts Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater & Musical Theater
New Music Box: American Music Center
USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program
AJ BlogsAJBlogCentral | rss
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog