succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Blogosphere

An interesting thing has been happening to me this week - I've been feeling very "plugged in." I've known about news stories before seeing them on cnn or the nightly news or good morning america. Which for me. Plenty of other people have commented on how the blogosphere is changing the way we get our news and whatnot, but I've always been just a bit hesitant to reference information I've gained from blogs in "serious conversation," mostly because I know a lot of the information available on the internet is unreliable. A lot of it is reliable too, but one has to do the appropriate amount of digging and fact checking and whatnot, so I understand when people are skeptical of "facts" offered up on a website being run out of some guys basement (figuratively speaking). Anyway, people have also been commenting that a lot of the work that should be done by the media has been somewhat taken up by bloggers (or other folks running websites of the blog-type). And this whole Dover Test/photographs-of-fallen-soldiers thing is just another example of that. As reported by Atrios, Russ Kick, who runs a website called The Memory Hole filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain 361 images taken by Defense Department photographers of coffins arriving from Iraq at the Dover airforce base. John Banner, the executive producer of ABC's "World News Tonight," admitted to not filing any such request because they had no idea these pictures even existed. No idea the Defense Department was taking its own pictures. As Atrios asks, "Uh, guys, maybe you could have asked?" You know, do your job as an investigative journalist? The more instances I witness of everyday people doing more and thinking more in their spare time than experts appear to be doing their jobs, the more frightened I become. i.e. Russ Kick should not have been the first person to obtain defense department photos. My friends, brilliant though they are, should not have more rational-sounding ideas about homeland security than the president. My professors, who specialize in statistics, not the military, should not have had more accurate predictions about the situation in post-invasion Iraq than the Pentagon. Of course, I get to have lengthy conversations with these folks about a variety of topics while I get mere soundbites from "the experts." So it's more than a little unfair to compare the two. But still...


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