They're Gazing at Our Navels

One of the more interesting effects of Gannongate has been reading the various critiques on blogging from the mainstream media.  The first round of commentary was predominantly vitriol designed to undermine the credibility of bloggers as a whole; had it been effective, had the attackers succeeded in their goal of debunking the story not by disproving the facts but by delegitimizing the source of its origins, the entire Gannon story might well have faded away.

Instead, it seems their blanket dismissal of blogging and bloggers may have had the opposite effect, as some new editorials seek to defend the role of the blogoshere, and in doing so, breathe life into the notion that there is a distinct role to be played by bloggers and extend the life of Gannongate.

The St. Petersberg Times opines: 

The proliferation of Internet Web logs - so-called "blogs" - has unsettled mainstream news organizations that have become a prime target for bloggers. On the whole, it's probably a healthy development. The news media have a credibility problem and bloggers, for all their excesses, have shown they have a role to play in holding mainstream journalists accountable. … Mainstream journalists have nothing to fear from bloggers if they remain true to fundamental standards of accuracy and fairness. They must remain cautious before passing along information from blogs or reacting to their charges, while continuing to learn from a form of mass media that is evolving before our eyes. Blogging, if practiced responsibly, could boost old media's credibility by making it more accountable to the public.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune muses that “New Media” isn’t really new at all: 

In the [category of New Media] are the Internet bloggers, cable television news shows and talk radio, all of whom traffic in clear, often loudly expressed opinion that frames everything they report. They're doing "opinion news--news that reflects one's own beliefs and preferences and tends to filter out dissenting views," as a recent report from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press put it. … Is that new? Nah. It's actually as old as the republic, when newspapers from front to back were clearly identified with a political philosophy and a Thomas Paine could rally Americans to embrace independence by distributing "Common Sense" far and wide. … So perhaps we're going back to the future.

While in Russia, the President asserted that it was the responsibility of the press to maintain the proper relationship between themselves and government—a responsibility which they have been lax about performing.  In the resulting void, bloggers have stepped in to demand accountability from the administration.  Old Media shouldn’t be so surprised that we’ve decided to take them to task, too.

As for the GOP shills that sought to eclipse the validity of the blogosphere’s charges about Gannon by attempting to undermine bloggers’ integrity, well…be careful what you wish for.  And you better damn well make sure when you start impugning someone else’s credibility that your own is above reproach.

-- Shakespeare’s Sister