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Tonight on CW-16! DFE, RT and Fighting29th

Tonight on CW-16, writers from Rochester Turning, Fighting 29th and this blog will be appearing on a special news program, discussing how blogging has changed and affected the state of news on both a local and national level.

It’s sure to be a great program, so I hope you all check it out.  It’s tonight at 10px on cable channel 16.  I guess we’ll also be doing a bit of live-blogging, so be sure to drag your laptop in front of the television and check in here for the latest!

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Suddenly, I find myself liking Rosanne Barr?

Huffington Post is reporting the contents of Rosanne Barr’s blog on her website, and so far, I kinda dig it. She’s always been a bit too loud for me, and the blogging is no exception, but she hits the target every time.  I’d read it myself, but if you can believe it, her website is blocked by the proxy servers at my job!  Go figure.  This one I find highly amusing:

jon voight your evil spawn angelina jolie and her vacuous hubby brad pitt make about forty million dollars a year in violent psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more. (just sayin’).
Also miss jolie says she likes mccain too and hasn’t decided who to endorse….huh? Aren’t you supposed to be somewhat enlightened, or do you not know that the african daughter you hold in every picture had parents who suffered and died because of the republican party’s worldwide economic assault on africa over the last few decades since reagan? whaaaa…??????!!!! (for that matter, the thai and vietnamese sons you are photo’d with weekly too!!!? who’s pictures you sell to raise money to help the poor? Their families are victims of America’s right wing military incursions too. Mccain wants to continue with the idea of war for profit…the americans are over that thinking now! They have drugged our troops and lower classes into supporting their oil business atrocities for long enough. We want to save not lose our souls thank you. Now go back to making your movies about women who love to handle big guns that shoot hundreds of people to death. Ps….it might be good for your asian and african children’s self esteem to know you support a brown man for the leader of the free world.)

Granted, her English skills could use some brushing up and she’s a bit over-fond of punctuation, but hey!  It’s all just criticism, after all.

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Blogversation: Can I Play?

There seems to have been a very interesting conversation started among RochesterTurning, Fighting29th, Ontario Republican and the 13WHAM.com blog about the nature of blogging. Evan Dawson has been asking what the opinion of local bloggers is of blogging and journalism, and I just figured I’d go ahead and chime in. Hope that’s OK, fellas?

Evan asked the following:

1) Elmer writes on The Fighting 29th that blogs offer a real chance to find misinformation. While that might be true, doesn’t it seem that blogs are rising as a form of respected journalism?

To the extent that blogging is journalism – or rather, in those cases where it might be seen as journalism – the quality of the content does indeed have the potential to be quite suspect. Then again, the recent history of main stream journalism doesn’t leave traditional news outlets with much to crow about in the veracity department. Mr. Dawson points out the Fast Ferry debacle as one local example, but there are many others.

Actually, blog journalism and traditional journalism have a lot more in common than is generally acknowledged, and perhaps if traditional media considered blogging a return to roots, our democracy’s informed public would be much better off. If you look at many articles posted to the D&C or any other traditional print publication, you will find that the story that runs isn’t really original reporting by the paper in question, but rather a reprinting of an AP news ticker story with perhaps a bit of editing and a few paras thrown in about the local reaction to the story. The same goes for television and radio news, where reports by correspondents from outside the station are rebroadcast.  Additional local context or editorializing is done by the anchor before and after the piece. This is not one or two stories, but rather a consistent pattern.

Blogs do much of the same, though the ratio of original content is often opposite: we usually read a full article from a traditional source, quote a paragraph or two, link back to it and then add our own reporting, commentary or whatever along side it. I have often said that blogging might be thought of in many cases as “meta-journalism,” adding additional context to stories carried by mainstream media, or taking two or three stories and putting them together to paint a more complete picture that might get missed when reporting gets too far into the weeds.

So while traditional outlets often advertise themselves with pretentious tag lines like “the most trusted name in news,” or “digging for answers, reporting them first,” the truth is that they are rarely the sole source of information, they rely on collaboration and fair use as much as any blogger, and in fact they are at least as given to inaccuracy as the blogging community and more so.

Why more so? Because the very nature of the Internet – let alone blogging – is collaborative and based on collective assent. Open Source software, for example, relies on many programmers to write code and check each other’s work, and only when that work gets accepted by a plurality is it included in the project. This here blog is proudly powered by one of the greats of Open Source: WordPress. Similarly, bloggers have the ability to spew off whatever ignorant or factually incorrect garbage they want to, but in order for there to be a general consensus of fact, many blogs, bloggers and readers have to agree that what is being said is factual. That’s not as easy nor as prone to mistakes as you might think. Come to think of it, Elmer, the reader from whence the question originates, is a notorious fact checker.

You don’t earn readers by making statements you can’t back up. You don’t earn respect in the blogging community without linking back to where you got your facts from. Obviously, some of us have a few anonymous sources and avenues of finding information that we can’t always disclose. But by and large, debating an issue without proving you are right with external verification is a losing proposition on the Internet. Hence, hyperlinks and quotations become sort of an inline bibliography from where you back your reporting up. No such vehicle exists or ever has existed for traditional journalism.

The tremendous advantage that MSM sources do have is resources. This is the primary reason that large media outlets are not likely to go away: having a plurality of journalists – some hired, some freelance – all covering one story for your paper means you get access to stuff we bloggers don’t get. Having a television station that reaches an entire constituency means getting interviews and access we bloggers don’t enjoy.

But having those advantages also means having tremendous responsibility as well.  That responsibility is not always lived up to, and so blogs also perform the job of fact-checking the media from time to time.

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d00ced! CNN Morning Show Producer

A producer at CNN has been d00ced for blogging on the state of the media without first clearing his reporting with CNN.

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Sudden Cold-Snap Freezes Entire NY Blogosphere

Maybe we’re all just in lame moods today, but I note that in my ten-article NY BlogWire, I see my post from 7:45am this morning and a post from 11:55am from Progressive Rockland.  It is now 2:28pm.  My gods, but we’re a lame bunch this morning!

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Conformity and Democracy: a Study

Talking Points Memo’s “Table For One” today features author and professor of law Cass Sustein. He has used his Table time to discuss a fascinating study done in Colorado exploring the effects of socialization on political opinions. Groups of basically like-minded people were first polled on political subjects, then allowed to discuss them with the group, then polled again:

Colorado Springs and the Politics of Conformity | TPMCafe

The results were simple. In almost every group, members ended up with more extreme positions after they spoke with one another. . .. . . Aside from increasing extremism, the experiment had an independent effect: it made both liberal groups and conservative groups significantly more homogeneous—and thus squelched diversity.

“Extremism” is perhaps a poorly-chosen word for what he’s talking about, as furious commenting suggests. The point is that people of like minds, when discussing politics at any length, tend to become even more strident in their beliefs and swing harder towards their respective wings. In his second installment, he goes on to explain that not only was this not any kind of specific benchmark of Internet culture, but in fact that sitting Federal judges displayed the same “joiner mentality,” leading to far more extreme positions in situations where like-minded judges sat in the same court.

What this all means for modern politics is interesting to consider. Professor Sunstein insists that the conclusions of his book are not as dire for political expression online as one might think, but certainly we can see that the blogging community has had this case-hardening effect in many quarters. There’s no question that, while I certainly have always been politically-aware, there’s never been anything in my life quite like DragonFlyEye.Net. Moreover, DFE had originally started as just an “About Me” type of webpage, and only for the purposes of practicing some of my then-hobby, web design. w00t! How times have changed!

On a more disappointing note, you can’t escape the fact that the Supreme Court is now populated by the most Conservative judges in a generation. If this idea of like-minded individuals swinging harder is true, I am very, very concerned for the future of this country with such group of men chatting amongst themselves. I wonder if Thomas and Scalia have taken to throwing stuff at Bryer and calling him a wussie. . .

Here in Monroe County, we can hope that the thinning of the Republican herd in the Legislature might have the opposite effect: in addition to the fear of losing more seats, the fact that there are less Conservative minds to speak in the Lej might hopefully mean a smoothing over of the rougher Conservative edge just by virtue of this above-cited effect. Unfortunately, the rules of the Legislature as outlined by the Monroe Charter are, as I understand them, entirely weighted towards the majority party, so this might be a pipe-dream.

But back to the conformity and extremity question:

I think most of us assume that the ability for the average private citizen to blog means greater diversity of thought, not conformity. Are we wrong?