14 September 2008

Gold and shit

Christian Kerr had some interesting things to say about bloggers in the paper he works for. He had some uninteresting things to say, too. That doesn't mean we can engage in false dichotomies as this:
THE greatest tool for the sharing of ideas or an instrument for reinforcing prejudice?

Probably a bit of both, I expect. A bit like the media really. You can find examples of silly posts on blogs (this one included) and I can find examples of silly articles in newspapers. If the MSM were always (or even often) the source of "balance and fact" that Kerr claims, blogs would starve rather than thrive.

I'd love to hear Kerr make the claim that an undergraduate tone is absent from aspects of the MSM in Australia - I defy him to claim that it is nowhere found in News Ltd papers. The same challenge goes for factless assertions and
so much righteous indignation, so much sneering superiority, so little analysis and so little humility in the search for balance, or even for further information that may enrich or enhance the views expressed.

If you want to be outraged, you can find something in the "blogosphere" (assuming of course that it has limits, let alone being equidistant from a given point), and Kerr has found a doozy:
A blogger on one of the smugger sites recently referred to a discussion there on the right to free speech. In their view it "took far too narrowly American and thus falsely universal a view".

How do you divorce the US and freespeech? The US was founded on freedom of expression. The US has driven the ideal. The US's love of free speech and understanding of its consequence helped inspire a keystone UN document. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proudly declares: "The advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech ... has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people."

Note that "universal" in the title. There are no gradations of freedom of speech there. They only exist in the ignorant and anti-American assertions of the online world. In that world, arguments don't happen any more. You're just referred to other blogs. Evidence isn't weighed. You're just referred to other blogs. You don't analyse data. You're just referred to other blogs.

I agree that it's silly to describe free speech as some American conceit. I disagree that "the online world" is anti-American.

If you read, as I did, the senior federal politics correspondent for The Australian insist that the polls showing a Labor victory were mistaken and that the Coalition would pull out of its death-plunge any day now ... an day now ... you'd know how silly it is for Kerr to assert that "nuance is gone" from non-professional (unprofessional?) journalism. If journalists can set themselves up as political players or historians, why can't any parvenu stumble into journalism? Hell, Christian - it worked for you.

I analyse data where it's available (unlike MSM journos who rehash press releases or merely quote spokespersons), and I don't refer people to other blogs. Actually, what I do is refer such readers as stumble upon this blog to inadequately written MSM articles - begged questions, sloppy research, motes in the eyes of others described in forensic detail notwithstanding planks in the writers' own.

Posts - sorry, I meant articles - like Kerr's show the folly of sweeping assertions in defending the ramparts of newspapers from the seemingly all-pervasive blogs. Mark Day can be forgiven for being an ignorant old fart, but while Christian Kerr is probably skulling the Kool-Aid to show how loyal he can be to his current employers, to me it rings hollow. Christian, you're going to distance yourself from that article one day so you can start by never, ever writing dross like that again. Leave the straw-man work to the idle housewife from Bronte and realise that you only have a job because Glenn Milne is too lazy to do his, and develop some humility of your own.

Blogs supplement journalism because journalism is inadequate. Journalists from the old days of the forty-year lunch, like Mark Day, knew that deep down. And while bloggers don't always do a good job of calling the MSM on their own laziness, they do it often enough to provoke an ongoing jihad ("our chief weapon is fear ...") from The Australian. Why is that? There's the question you should be investigating, with all your resources, all your authority, and your interest in having an employer that doesn't die underneath you ...

1 comment:

  1. Glenn Milne, lazy? C'mon. National Press Club lunches and long phone conversations with Peter Costello's support base must take up, ummm, eight hours a week.