I move in circles (socially and at work) where people tend to be politically interested but surprisingly ignorant of many facts. I blame it on the fact that they spend far too much time following a few big name sources of TV and print news that they think are comprehensive and giving them the full picture, but in fact are very narrow. When I discuss politics with them and point out all manner of things that they do not know, they sometimes ask me how I get information that they were unaware of. I tell them that I read a lot of blogs that monitor a wide range of news sources and alert me to news that I would otherwise have missed, in addition to providing valuable insights and commentary.
But it is surprising to see the disdain that the words ‘blogs’ still conjure up in these people as soon as I say it. Some of them proudly say that they never have and never will read blogs. They still cling to the old stereotype of bloggers as unemployed and unemployable young people living in their parents’ basement and ranting at the world, unaware that blogs have long since ceased to fit that image if indeed they ever did. But what is surprising is when similar ideas are expressed by people who really should know better.
Take for example, Aaron Sorkin, creator of TV shows like The West Wing and The Newsroom that are explicitly political. He wrote recently about what he reads and it is completely legacy media and he has contempt for web media sources.
The upside of web-based journalism is that everybody gets a chance. The downside is that everybody gets a chance. I can’t really get on board with the demonization of credentials with phrases like “the media elite” (just like doctors, airline pilots and presidents, I prefer reporters and commentators to be elite) and the glamorization of inexperience with phrases like “citizen journalist.”
When I read the Times or The Wall Street Journal, I know those reporters had to have cleared a very high bar to get the jobs they have. When I read a blog piece from “BobsThoughts.com,” Bob could be the most qualified guy in the world but I have no way of knowing that because all he had to do to get his job was set up a website–something my 10-year-old daughter has been doing for 3 years.
Blogger Kaili Joy Gray deconstructs Sorkin’s article rather well I thought, but since she is a mere blogger who even uses profanity, he likely will not read her piece.
But Sorkin’s piece does explain rather well why the few shows I have seen by this supposedly edgy writer are so predictably within the major media mainstream consensus. That’s all he knows.