06. September 2005 · Comments Off on What are bloggers? · Categories: General

I know, what kind of question is that? But I find myself getting irritated, once again, with a cyber-friend who routinely ignores how blogs have evolved.

The context: A message-board discussion about Katrina’s aftermath. I posted a link to the Katrina timeline that Timmer blogged about, and another member posted a variety of items from blogcritics.org. Her comment (below) was more to that poster than to me, based on when she posted it. But it still rankled with me, because she said the same thing during the 2004 election-cycle, so it’s a long-standing opinion with her.

Her words:

Frankly, bloggers don’t mean anything to me, because they are just people speaking their minds. Just because someone blogs, doesn’t mean what they say is factual.

How would y’all have responded to her? Do y’all ever get this type of comment thrown at you?

My response:

They’re more than just commentary. Have been for a few years, now. It depends on which ones you read, of course, but many bloggers are experts in their fields, and many of them do a lot more digging and basic research than some journalists do. It’s not unusual to find a blogger serving as a consolidation point for a multitude of news articles, for instance, as well as linking to other blogs from folks who are where hte news is happening.

Many of the bloggers that I read rely on source documents, including wire reports, as well as their personal knowledge & expertise. They quote their source documents, and provide links to them, so their readers can read the originals, and make up their own minds, much like the blogger I linked to did with his timeline. They also rely on first-hand accounts from people in the field, and most of them accept viewpoints from all spectrums. In other words, a conservative blogger will have liberal readers, not just conservative ones, and they will all discuss the blog-post in the comments section. Same for liberals and libertarians (and yes, often the readers and commenters will be the same political persuasion as the writer, which leads to preaching to the choir – often, but not always) . The conversations in the comments sections can get quite interesting, believe me. And responsible bloggers (including the ones I read) will correct their entries when more information is known, factual errors are found or pointed out by their readers. And they don’t bury the correction in a hard to find spot – they usually put a comment at the top of that post saying that there are updates further down.

I agree with the need for an accurate opinion, but honestly, if I relied on the news media, whether print, radio, or televised, I’d feel like I was only seeing what they wanted to share with me. There’s more to the story than what they show us.

disclaimer: I am a casual blogger, and if she were reading my sporadically-updated blog than her comment would be just. But when I think of the blogs I visit regularly, and the wealth of information I gather from them, I couldn’t just leave her comments alone. /disclaimer

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