As a blogger and a newspaper editor, just about everything I'm about to write this evening will probably cut me both ways . . . .
First, thanks to qrswave for his post on my photography and my comments about blogging and self importance.
Part of the reason I started this blog (besides being a safe outlet for psychotic episodes) was to encourage discussion on various topics.
I try to take a look from both sides of the fence. Many corporate media entities have been looking at this miasma of declining circulation, the impact of the Internet, and the rise of 'citizen journalism' (ie. blogs, chat, e-mail, camera phones and other web-based communication).
While digital cameras and USB-capable recorders are touted as "force multipliers" for news staffers, those staffers still have to collect and write news in addition to collecting sound and images for a growing emphasis on Net-based news media.
As for "fairly," that argument has been going on for as long as there have been newspapers . . . and radio and television outlets and networks, and Internet-based media outlets. Bias is everywhere, folks, and as a newspaper editor, all I can do is my level best to ensure that all sides in a situation get a fair hearing so their respective arguments rise and fall on their own merits.
And being in the dual role of editorial page editor, I have to do my level best to rationally analyze and argue for or against positions and present those opinions in a fair and proper context.
As for blogging, ultimately I feel it's a god thing for media. As for reliability and accuracy, I still feel that the quality of blogging is as variable as is the quality of "mainstream media" in the eyes of the bloggers.
When trained reporters and bloggers exercise diligence in getting the story accurately and in a fair context, everyone benefits.
But too often, in my personal experience, some bloggers and e-mail processors end up playing that old children's game where the kids line up and one person starts by whispering a message into the next kid's ear. As the process is repeated, the message often gets so garbled that all meaning, context and accuracy are lost.
Thus, I still feel that a professional, well-trained and well-staffed "mainstream media" is vital to any hope of a democratic society. And quality bloggers, in my view, are also critical to that ideal.
If you look how pamphleteers and underground newspapers have played a role in our history and in the overthrow of many a repressive society, I think you'll understand my feelings about blogging.