Nick Coleman recently mentioned weblogs in his column space in the Star Tribune again
. If you click on the link, you will find he is speaking about the recent Time Magazine (normally I would link the Time article, however, you have to pay to view it)
designation of a Twin Cities weblog being named "Blog of the Year." The weblog is Powerline
Northfield resident and fellow blogger Scott Neal
responded to Mr. Coleman's first discussion of weblogs, asking him to keep an open mind for those of us trying to use the format for positive, constructive civic discussion. That response made its way to Citizen Wig
I noticed that today's Strib OpEd page also showed a response from the editor
that Mr. Coleman had listed as responsible for squashing an editorial endorsement for a former governor. Mr. Parkinson took exception to Mr. Coleman's recollection of the events he described.
Hmmm, let's see, the Star Trib allowed space for Roger Parkinson, to rebut Mr. Coleman. Sounds a little bit like a weblog, interaction.
The letter was a catalyst for me to respond here when I chose not to the first time. Why you might ask?
Because I think that just as I choose to be careful not to use a broad brush to draw a conclusion when posting entries on this site, I think other media outlets need to abide by the same journalistic principle. I've observed a good number of tabloids available on "newsstands close to you" and in most supermarkets, that I could make a strong argument they are the 19th century technological equivalent of the rogue bloggers to which Mr. Coleman referred in his recent article.
I can't possibly imagine that Mr. Coleman would advocate any type of government control on individuals voicing their opinions, albeit as far "out" as some of them may be: so I'm not sure what he would like to see happen to weblog authors.
I 've browsed a number of "blogs" out there and they run the gambit...sort of like some of the independent hard copy printed papers out there. The key is to keep perspective. I suspect that King George wasn't particularly happy with some of the colonial newspapers he read a long time ago. They too were subversive, inaccurate and often abusive.. at least in King George's opinion.
I guess it all depends on one's perspective. What I see is that the Internet can be a powerful but a painful reminder of our society. It offers a lot of positive and wonderful opportunities but there is certainly a dark side there. It's loud, nasty and often down in the mud. It also shows our best moments as evidenced by the outpouring of support and encouragement to those victims of the recent disaster in Asia.
I'm of the mind that those who are slanderous, whether hard copy or electronic, will ultimately meet their journalistic demise because there will always be someone out there who will point out that the "emperor has no clothes:" they will lose their credibility and no one will read their work.
In some cases the court system intervenes as it recently did in the case of the county supervisor and a local newspaper here in Minnesota.
There is an awesome responsibility in putting words and ideas into this space. In the 1800's and 1900's, printed papers were saved in libraries and newspapers kept copies for reference. The electronic world of weblogs connected to syndication and search engines guarantees that what's written will be around a long time.
The Internet is here to stay. Writer's stylebooks now include formats to reference web sites as legitimate sources of information. Does it mean that all data found on the Internet is correct? No, not any more that I would say that all ideas and thoughts written in books and newspapers are correct.
It is the challenge and responsibility of the reader to discern between fact and fiction, to challenge what is posited and to insist on correction when errors are found. Thus the tradition of intelligent, public discourse can remain healthy and alive.
Perhaps we can develop a 21st century equivalent of the term "yellow journalism" to refer to the negative electronic world of journalism. I'm thinking along the lines of "bogus code."
I think it's important to not be locked into old paradigms. I've heard several times that if Railroads had thought of themselves as transportation companies instead of being locked to the "rail," we might be flying on the Union Pacific Airline System. Can we possibly equate the same thinking to new ways of public discourse and exchange?
I dismiss the concept that we cannot move into a new medium in which to exchange ideas. The world of the Internet will be no less difficult to access that it was for someone in the 1890's to find a nickel to buy a newspaper. Libraries have always been the point for free access to information whether it is printed word or electronic word and I suspect they will be around in some form for many years to come.
I do suppose one could argue it is difficult to line a birdcage with an electronic version of a weblog versus a printed newspaper.
So...what's the connection with this police chief and his weblog?
This is an exciting time. It's a time of change. How the change impacts us is ours to decide. If you subscribe, as I do, that we will succeed in keeping our communities safe and turn the tide on crime by involving community members in prevention strategies and problem solving, then having the ability to communicate easily and as frequently as I feel necessary is absolutely important. It may only be one part of the strategy but it is a unique opportunity that can help set the standard for years to come.
The fact that I hear from people literally around the block and around the continent impresses upon me the importance of what is written here. It is a great opportunity for a positive exchange of ideas.
It's exciting to be part of an emerging form of communication.
Postscript: Christa reminded me to suggest you check out http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp
? The Poynter Institute is sort of the "conscience" of journalism if you will. One of my instructors at the FBI Academy, Penny Parish, who is a former news director from one of our Minneapolis TV stations, reintroduced me to the Institute. Check out this article. As Christa states, it sounds like the mainstream media knows the potential of weblogs.