Ribbity Blog

baqqa mqarqra
A Frog's-eye view

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Tuesday, September 03, 2002
 
Congratulations to Israblogger Tal G. on the second write-up in as many weeks in the Israeli press, this time in Hebrew. The article discussed the various aspects of blogging, and concludes with the issue of the blogs’ attitude towards the news media.

The bloggers enjoy a love-hate relationship with the main-stream media. On the one hand, they rely upon it as the main source of their information, and on the other hand – they enjoy criticizing it. Tal relates that he and his blogger companions time and again encounter journalistic reports that contain inaccuracies. In several cases, according to him, the bloggers pointed out to the leading journalistic bodies such as CNN and the BBC the mistakes appearing in their reports, and got them to publish corrections or clarifications. “The bloggers force the press to be more responsible”, he says.

However, even if the bloggers can occasionally correct the guard dog of democracy, they are still almost entirely dependent upon the news it supplies them. Only a small number of the hundreds of thousands of blogs that are sweeping the net deal with news issues, and of those only a few are run by people who go out into the field, collect evidence and carry out investigations. Such journalistic work requires the investment of time and energy, and as long as most private sites have trouble financing their activities, it is difficult to assume that many of them will be able to afford such a luxury. Moreover, it seems that the rapid growth in the number of blogs will take it more and more difficult to find the right blog amongst the multitude. Surveying many blogs in order to receive a full and balanced picture of the situation already seems today an impossible mission.


While most of the article is positive, I feel the description of journalistic work is somewhat romantic. If journalists really do spend all their time doing investigatory research as Ha’aretz suggests, then there must be an awful lot of stupid journalists out there, if that’s the best result they can come up with after investing so much time and energy. In fact, much journalistic work is a matter of reaching deadlines and trying to grab headline space, as well of course of making a good living. Many of the journalists assigned to foreign parts know nothing of those countries’ languages and history, and they have to cobble together reports based upon press releases and local guides. How many times have I sat cringing at the cable news stations as some anchorman or woman sits in the studio and attempts to interrogate some foreign leader whose name s/he can hardly pronounce about places s/he has never seen. [“Oh come on Minster, the Harr Homer settlement in East Jerusalem etc etc.”]

The fact is that the educated and informed blogger often has a much better understanding of the situation than the journalist in the field, even if s/he isn’t staying the in Hilton and plowing around “the field” in a four-wheel drive with a laughing local. Your frog in the pond may know where on the web to find information that the journalist is unable or unwilling to check, information that written by experts and actually bears some relationship to the facts on the ground. Many journalists simply do not do a very good job.

Thanks to those readers who sent in letters. Thanks to you, I now have indents! I promise that Comments will come soon. In the meantime, please keep writing to RibbityFrog@netscape.net




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