Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker does not particularly like bloggers. Dave Olivera, an associate editor of Spokane, Washington's Spokesman Review does. His blog, Huckleberries, surpassed the million hit mark for 2005. Not bad for we Inland Northwest bloggers, many who consider ourselves family with Dave as our Blog Father. Congratulations!
I understand Ms. Parker's concern. There is a lot of vicious, self-serving and just plain deceitful blogging going on "out there". There are also a number of incredibly dangerous people using the medium. For example Joseph Duncan, who sits in our jail awaiting trial for the brutal murders of two adults and two children and the despicable abuse of a third child. He hosted a blog on blogspot.com, as do I.
On the other hand, in our little corner of the world, we pick up on the leads Dave gives us or offer our own, the result being spirited dialog presenting different points of view. For the most part we are civil, thoughtful and, in our way, contributing members of the community. For those who doubt this is little more than a fad, let me share with you some reading I've done over the past few days.
I finished a great book, Fat Man Fed Up, by Jack Germond. The thrust is how American politics has deteriorated because the voting public is so detached from the process it allows for candidates who are created by committee and have no convictions of their own to present. We've gotten what we deserve.
He also takes the press to task for their part - encroaching laziness.
The second read was the Spring 2005 issue of The Wilson Quarterly - much of the issue is devoted to the collapse of big media. Some rather eye opening statistics show the decline in newspaper circulation and broadcast news viewership. A telling one is that the median age of network news viewers is 60. Where are the young getting their news? They aren't. Apparently the line has been so blurred between "news" and "entertainment" that our young people are opting for the more exciting entertainment venues. Should this not be of great concern? Imagine if an uninformed and uncaring public should be lead into an unnecessary and unjustified war. What would happen to us if no one cared enough to monitor it?
It goes on to point out that many who could be contributing are locked out by the demand of even the smallest of markets for a journalism degree. This has enabled the migratory lure of the larger and larger market. No more neighborhood reporters but fresh faced kids just out of journalism school putting in time in cities where they can't pronounce the surrounding towns - what's more names of the cities and countries of the world - or their leadership. Remember Bush and Musharraf during his first campaign?
The question is raised as to which newspapers will be the first to recruit bloggers as paid reporters for their online versions with the best of them working in the print editions beside traditional reporters. When that happens, it was predicted, journalism professors will become an endangered species and the news will return to hard news - objective and informative - as it should be. As it must be if we as a nation are to survive.
I venture to say many of us here who blog wouldn't if it weren't for the exposure Mr. Olivera provides. In many respects Huckleberries is ahead of the curve and I expect it will remain so. To the best of my knowledge none of us are paid but Dave has his local stringers, opinion and feature writers contributing daily.
So rather than dismissing we little guys as bored wives or retirees or strung out youth or habitual discontents, maybe it's time the vaunted "professionals" out there take a closer look and nurture that which is good. I do believe as time goes on such a wave could stifle the majority of what's bad.