Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What a Dvork

Bill Dvorkin has a fascinating article on bloggers and their role in "unredacting" the "redacted" pentagon document about the Italian hostage. (Via Atrios) Apparently he doesn't think to highly of us.

But some NPR listeners and cyber-savvy bloggers (people who run personal Web sites on the Internet) soon discovered if they downloaded the document from and translated it into another format, the edited portions could be restored.

The unexpurgated document was then posted on a number of Web sites. It included details of U.S. Army policies and procedures in hostage cases, as well as the names of the military personnel involved in the killing of the Italian agent.

First, it is essential to report on government documents. But in this case, publishing the unedited report (albeit unintentionally) could have -- and could yet -- threaten peoples' lives.

I agree with Mr Dvorkin. I think there is such a thing as responsible reporting. And revealing information that could be dangerous is bad.

But who is really at fault here? I don't think it is the bloggers who linked the unredacted document, or even the people who discovered how to uncensored it. It doesn't take a genius to manipulate a .pdf file. The pentagon could have done a better job of securing this information in the first place. At least now the pentagon knows that we know this information. How much worse could it have been if one lone terrorist discovered how to uncensored this document and use the knowledge against us. I hope, if anything the Pentagon learns from this little escapade.

Mr. Dvorkin goes on to discuss how younger groups are moving to internet news instead of clumsy newspaper and television. And then we have this little gem:

Those who rely on the Internet as their primary source of news keeps growing compared to other media sources. This group also considers Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, to be the most trusted television anchor.

I can tell you why this tech savvy generation prefers to listen to Jon Stewart. Because he isn't full of Bullshit! The world is full of ridiculous amounts of irony, hypocrisy, stupidity and The Daily Show Calls them on it. It stimulates our grey matter by making you think about issues instead of just expounding on what the right thinks versus the left, repeating things we already know. The daily show questions conventional "wisdom" and that is a beautiful thing.

Even more beautiful, On Monday night Jon Stewart had on Zell Miller on and at the end of the interview he told his guest that he disagreed with him, but that he was sure they both had the best interests of the country at heart. You don't get that with network news! You get Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, need I say more?

The appeal of the blogs? Humor seems to be the biggest attraction. Ironic detachment from the news, an ability to deflate egos and refreshing, undisguised opinion are also valued. All are antithetical to most news organizations.

I do admit I enjoy the humor. And the egodeflation. But at least you know that what I'm saying is opinion, and I'm not disguising my bias with real news.

American newspapers traditionally and scrupulously segregate fact-based reporting from opinion by designating pages for each. Radio and television try to ensure that opinion remains secondary to reporting. Conclusions should be drawn warily.

Okay, that is bull. Maybe the writers of newspapers aren't coming right out and SAYING this is their opinion. But they don't present a complete picture all of the time. They chose to cover the stories that are important to them, that further their interests. And they can put a positive or negative spin on a story without coming out and calling it opinion. The beauty of the blogosphere is that you KNOW it is someone's opinion. But you can still find the facts within the writing.

Bloggers tend not to care if they, and their readers conflate opinion and fact. It's part of the appeal of the blogosphere.

If one of my 2 readers confused something I stated as an opinion and thought it was a fact I would most certainly care. But I think most people can tell the difference between facts an opinions. Opinions can be value judgments, like "Dobson is a Child abuser". There is no way to quantify the phrase "Dobson is a Child abuser" Even if I offer lots of proof for that statement it is still an opinion based on how I define a Child Abuser. However if I say "Dobson writes books that promote the use of violence as a form of discipline." That can be easily verified by reading one of his books.

As news organizations fight to regain their battered credibility and vanishing audiences, the blogs and the number of people who read them continue to grow. The blogs entertain, they provoke, and they are not constrained by journalistic standards of truth telling.

I am not constrained by journalistic standards of truth telling, no. But I am constrained by the ability of my audience to double check the things I say and to disagree with me. In fact, if something I say is wrong, they can post it in my comments and I will either update my post or mock them because I am intimidated by their intelligence.

But you know for a member of the unbiased media this "ombudsman" seems to have a lot of opinions of his own;

Can the MSM adopt any blog values to attract the younger audience? Or should we wait and see? Perhaps these younger people will outgrow these youthful informational indiscretions and come to their senses -- and back to media that can serve them best...
I have my doubts...

Informational indescretions? Where was this guy during Rathergate? I don't think that the youth of today will out grow their desire to participate in the news network. I don't think that they will go tired of conversing on issues and sharing facts with each other. The media has long ago stopped serving this generation. They tried to brainwash us, and it backfired.

We have control now, we can cover the stories we want, and get information from all over the world in the click of a mouse. We have control of OUR media and I'll be damned if they are going to take it away from us.

Over lunch on the first day of the conference a representative from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs discussed strategies to counteract critical viewpoints of the non-lethal weapons programme in the media. ........ She admitted, however, that they ‘still don’t know how to handle the bloggers’. (Via Instapundit)

All I can say to that is, Good!

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