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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, June 17, 2004

Time on blogs

When I want news, I go to the Economist.

When I want to find out all about Yoda, I go read Time.

I rarely read Time.

So I almost missed this: Time Magazine weighs in on blogs.

The article is so full of fluff and anecdotes that it is hard to excerpt some kind of kind of point from it, but the general import is that blogs are fun, delightfully biased and somewhat dangerous because they lecture to the converted. They allow amateurs to become experts (gasp!), Time says. Throughout the article, one gets the impression that they wish reporting to be done by unbiased professionals..ahem..like themselves.

Their concern is genuine: there is a danger in reading blogs only from your viewpoint.

But such tunnel vision nothing new. People have been doing that for years - contrast the readers of the Mother Jones with readers of the WSJ. Hell, my mom been getting her news from the National Catholic Reporter for the last decade, which has a lot to do with her belief that we can just sit down and talk with men like Osama Bin Laden.

It is possible for an entire nation to be mislead by its biased media (Pravda in the USSR, or most of France today).

But I think professional journalists fail to grasp blogs for what they are: a democratization of media. Everybody can post, comment, debate and argue. You fight - sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong - but you learn in the process.

I'm drawn to blogs run by people who know things that I don't. I learn from them.

In TIME's view of the world, bloggers are all set in their ways with rock solid opinions. That's not true. Most bloggers I know change their minds when the facts change. It's discerning fact from perception that is the problem.

Big media might not understand blogs because they represent something frightening: journalists are getting cheaper. When people do your job in their spare time, your job doesn't have much of a future.

Hell, even my township has a blog now, and my neighbor - working through the township blog and e-mail - just forced a judge to admit his corruption: Top judge in Delco pays back state, county
A Delaware County president judge who avoided taxes on a real estate transfer two years ago by claiming he was married has paid the state and county $2,902 in back taxes and interest.

Judge Kenneth A. Clouse signed a transfer in April 2002 that added Arlynne Cohen Clouse as his wife to the deed of his Haverford Township house. Transfer taxes are not levied when a spouse is added to a deed...

...Pat Biswanger, who joined Heilmann in his request to have the Elections Bureau investigate, said residents should not disregard the matter.

"People will say, 'What's the big deal? Why go through all that risk for one vote?' " she said. "These people just don't think rules apply to them."

Biswanger, a Republican committeewoman in Haverford Township, said she and Heilmann filed a complaint yesterday with Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green, citing the voter-fraud and tax-evasion allegations. Green's office did not return calls seeking comment.

Haverford Township is too small to support a paper that would report on local issues like this.

In the absence of media oversight, corruption has thrived at the local level.

The Haverford Blog is being used by regular people in the township to expose this corruption.

Thank you, Pat.

Blogs? They are good things, just not for professional journalists.

Viva la Internet.

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