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A Blogging World

November 30, 2007

Joe Layman
Comm. 275
Professor Walker
November 30, 2007

Throughout the course of history there has not been a more effective way to organize people than through the Internet. People can see results within seconds after sending an e-mail, researching a topic, or posting a blog. The speed and efficiency in which this can be done has many people questioning the consequences. However, for dissident press fanatics the Internet has become a sanctuary. Advocacy groups and especially bloggers are using the Internet as a place to get their message out. Once separated by hundreds of miles people who share a common interest are now connected. This capability has made blogging the most powerful and influential form of dissident press.

Many factors contribute to this growing trend. The most important element that has propelled blogging to the top of the dissident world is its availability. “Blogging technology has, for the first time, given the average Jane the ability to write, edit, design, and publish her own editorial product” (Welch). Unlike the dissident press of the 1800s and most of the 1900s, anyone can submit an article. Since authors hide behind users names they do not have to be afraid of posting a controversial statement or going against mainstream thought. However, some people may argue that because posts can be submitted anonymously it does not allow the blogger to be responsible for his or her comment.

Other general criticisms include the notion that most comments are not serious and that the authors do not cite reasons or examples to support their argument. While some of this may be true, I believe, at the core, bloggers are writing to start a conversation. They want their readers to start questioning and thinking about the world around them. Blogging allows the average person to contribute who would otherwise not have written a letter to the editor. It also allows people to be updated by the minute instead of waiting for the paper in the morning. The fact that people can blog at work or in school contributes to a constant flow of information. Thus it is becoming more difficult for a “news organization to sit on a big story and publish it at a set time” (Outing). This development is an example of the emerging role of blogging as a dissident media source.

Along with their emerging role is the question of whether or not bloggers are true journalist. Dissent press has evolved to an easy and inexpensive practice. Stories can be posted within minutes of an incident. Again, I believe this is good and begins the conversation. In this “on the go” society people are searching for quick news stories and bloggers are providing them. However, others can say that bloggers do not conduct the real investigation and thus are not presenting the whole story. Michael Skube of the Los Angels Times is among the group that believes bloggers only skim the surface of their stories. As he said in an August 17th article, “the disgrace at Walter Reed, true enough, was first mentioned in a blog, but the full scope of that story could not have been undertaken by a blogger” (Skube). I disagree. While Skube tries to discredit bloggers, I think that bloggers help expose stories that national newspapers or news networks would have ignored.

A story that was not covered and finally established blogging as an important form of journalism was the threat America faced from terrorist prior to September 11th. The attacks “created a huge appetite on the part of the public to be part of The Conversation,” thus propelling blogging into forefront” (Welch). Now, people take it upon themselves to question authority. With everyone contributing, dissident press has grown dramatically in the last six years. Yet, some people still question its credibility.

If this class has taught me anything it is that a single voice is powerful enough to bring about change. Voices such as Ida B. Wells, William Lloyd Garrison, and Huey P. Newton were the leaders of dissident press decades ago. Like real journalist of their time they investigated stories, used eye-witness accounts, and tried to discover the truth. Ironically, these tactics are used by bloggers today. In fact, “the only real between what they do and the work of professionals journalists is that most bloggers lack the credentials to gain access to sources as easily as their journalist cousins” (Outing). Serious bloggers do not let that stand in their way and that is why I believe their role in dissident press is just as valuable as a trained journalist.
Bloggers are not only important to journalism, but also society because of the stories that they uncover. Without them Walter Reed, the Hurricane Katrina timeline, and especially our blog topic, debate reform, would not be as popular. Their ability to start a conversation and have other people correct or strength their argument is an art not found in many other places. I also believe that because bloggers do not let the people or organizations they are criticizing defend themselves, blogging is appealing to many people who are not interested in professional technicalities. Consequently bloggers are controversial.

People argue that because bloggers do not ask for a response from the other side, they are unfair and biased. However, bloggers, and especially dissident journalist, are not supposed to give equal time to both views. In the 1830s Ida B. Wells did not allow pro-lynching articles to appear in her newspaper. Dissidents try to persuade. So, just because one type of journalist cannot do it, does not mean another should not be allowed. This is also applies to the use of unconventional writing. Bloggers may not have the most crisp or grammatically correct sentences, but this does not ruin the validity of their statement.

While blogging for the class project I found the conditions of blogging to be very relaxing. This is another reason why the bloggers role is expanding in the dissident media world. People feel comfortable writing nonstop for twenty minutes then publishing their articles with no questions asked. Bloggers are free to write about any topics that interest them. Because the rules are hard to outline I believe bloggers have an advantage over traditional journalist. Therefore blogs in the form of entertainment and dissident media will continue to grow and become even more popular.

Without waiting to confirm the facts, bloggers force news stories to the front page. They create a conversation that may motivate people to take action. Posting blogs once a week about a certain issue made me feel that I was doing something good. I felt involved and made it my responsibility to make the reader feel the same way. If our articles were in a newspaper not as many people would have read them and they definitely would not have received hits from all around the world. The idea that someone in Europe could have read my articles is exciting. It appears that although bloggings influence is immeasurable it can only continue to grow.

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