Are blogs relevant? Who cares what bloggers think? Why do we need blogs when we have 24/7 cable news? Are bloggers biased? Do we really need so many political blogs; they all say the same thing!
These are questions I see all the time about the blogosphere. And of course, the irony is that often these criticisms of blogs are found...on blogs. It leads me to point out this New York Times piece on their own blog, The Caucus, about the relevance of blogging, especially these days.
"Even a White House press shop renowned for its mastery of the Internet has at times seemed unprepared for the swiftness of blogger outrage. Online criticism is especially relevant to the Obama administration, since it leaned so heavily on Internet activism to come to power.“The blogs accelerate the way a story can spread,” Nate Silver, founder of political blog fivethirtyeight.com said, in pointing to the uproar over executive bonuses at the American International Group. “With a new communications team in the White House, they have shown inexperience. They underestimated how different the world is nowadays.”
The mainstream media has been proven to be biased and that was never more obvious than during the presidential campaign. And face it, the mainstream media is NOT covering the nationwide Tea Party movement. Oh, you might catch a 10 second mention here and there, but for the most part, it isn't out there. It is the bloggers covering that one.
The mainstream media hardly covered the Charles Freeman nomination either. I received several emails after my own post on Freeman that said this was the first they'd heard of it. I don't think I'm breaking any ground with my reporting or coverage. I'm actually NOT writing about anything that other bloggers aren't also writing about. I'm not "reporting" so much as pointing out or analyzing. Or criticizing.
It's not all that diffferent than other genres, for that matter. Should only the best and most famous writers be the only ones writing? What if photographers had stopped taking pictures and adopted the attitude of "Oh why should I take pictures of landscapes when Ansel Adams or Georgia O'Keefe has already done that?" What if artists had put down their brushes because Van Gogh already painted those sunflowers and Monet had already done those haystacks?
Obviously as bloggers we are not Van Gogh, or Ayn Rand or any other genius of his genre. But we practice our craft and we are relevant. Bloggers serve a purpose. Take the AIG story, for example. The NYT article points out that “AIG was dominating the blogosphere discussion by midday on Sunday, whereas mainstream media outlets, except for the Times and Post, didn’t really catch up until that evening.”
Don't underestimate the power of blogs. Lots of people get their information from blogs and more people are getting their information from the web these days than they are from newspapers. Trust me, if you had to rely on our own Shreveport Times for any national news, you'd be in a black hole.