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Blogging: Accessible, Cheap, Dissident

November 30, 2007

Today the majority of the information that people consume is through the mainstream media. In fact, many people think that mainstream news is the only way to really obtain information at all. However, people of younger generations and people whose views are critical of this system have begun to take notice within the past few years, that there are other options. Blogging, do to its accessibility and in some cases dissident nature, has become a great tool for activists, and has been useful in getting important issues of social justice heard. It truly has become the newest outlet for dissident media.

There is debate about blogging’s credibility as a form of journalism. The purpose of journalism is to get important stories out there for the public to know about. Blogs, in many cases, as well as other alternative publications are, in fact, responsible for breaking important stories that at first were viewed by the mainstream media as unimportant or too controversial to report. It’s obvious that the mainstream media won’t cover issues of social justice due to the fact that their main source of income, advertising, is funded by the very entities that are the cause of many injustices.

When corporate capitalists are funneling in money and keeping mainstream media outlets above water, the programming of these outlets becomes predictable and in a way censored. With car commercials and gas companies’ advertisements, how often does the public hear about global warming on the six o’clock news, despite the fact that it is important and it affects everyone? So now the question is if the mainstream media won’t cover important issues is it really credible? I would say not.

There are blogs that are not credible sources either, however, once a blog gains credibility and notoriety, the blog can participate in some pretty important reporting. There are many issues that aren’t touched by the mainstream media prior to being blogged about. For instance Faye Anderson who considers herself a citizen journalist, “blogs about illegal immigration constantly and wrote extensively about the Jena Six case well before MSM started covering the racial conflicts…She credit black bloggers, alongside black radio, with closely following the story.” (Vargas) Also with the mainstream media being very anti-Chavez and not as inclusive of news about Latin America, there are blogs such as the Latin American News Review that offer another side of the story.

Of course not all blogs very credible and most are not used as journalistic outlets. Michael Skube questioned the credibility of blogs, and wrote of how some non-credible blogs bring all other blogs’ credibility into question. If one really considers this an argument than one might question CNN’s credibility when the E! channel airs nothing but shallow gossip and rumors about celebrities. This argument doesn’t really hold water.

With the growth and popularity of the Internet, journalism is also more accessible to people who not only might not have the most popular opinions, but have very little money. Blogging has really revolutionized dissident media because it’s cheap. In Streitmatter’s book, in almost every chapter there were stories of how dissident publications had trouble staying afloat with the denial of most advertising revenue. Printing and distributing is expensive. With blogging, both of these aspects of publishing are free.

In the United States it is the Constitutional right of the people to the freedom to speak, assemble, and “the existence and toleration of a diversity of ideas and opinions within the free press”. John Stuart Mill advocated for a free marketplace of ideas. With a homogenous mainstream media, blogs are covering what they are not, enriching journalism in this country, as well as all over the world. Blogs are the voices of those without the funding to publish in print, and those voices come from a much different place that aren’t clouded with special interest groups agendas.

Blogs also are accessible to people all across the world. The Internet is easy to use and free to look at, minus a monthly wireless subscription. With only a few keystrokes people can have access to all kinds of news, minus the ninety-nine cents per article one has to pay to read the New York Times online. Also many young people today spend hours on the Internet. Even spending one day without it seems impossible. (Walker) Knowing how dependent people, particularly younger generations are on technology, this is great way to gain readership.

Also another great aspect of using the Internet to broadcast one’s thoughts is that it reaches across national borders. The video blog of Comandante Marcos of the Zapatistas awing revolutionaries everywhere and even our own blog that got hits from around the world is proof that blogs have a unique way of communicating internationally.

There are many things that make blogging an optimal form of dissident media. There’s a backlash due to a non-credible homogenous mainstream media, that leaves people looking for news elsewhere. Blogs are free and have no publishing cost, and blogs cast a wide net of readership with their accessibility via the World Wide Web. Blogs are the newest avenue of publishing for activist journalists everywhere, and no matter how disenfranchised someone is or how far away someone is, blogs allow people to be heard.

Sources

1. Skube, Michael. “Blogs: All the News That Fits.” The Los Angeles Times 19 Aug. 2007.
2. Vargas, Jose A. “Storming the News Gatekeepers.” The Washington Post 27 Nov. 2007.
3. Walker, Danna. “The Longest Day.” The Washington Post 5 Aug. 2007.

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