Give a monkey a brain, and he’ll swear he is at the center of the universe.
Here are some background materials you can read before you read my side of the story:
- Rom discusses a short history of media.
- The Jester-in-Exile talks about the differences of mainstream media and blogging.
- Cocoy discusses the disruptive technology of new media.
- Dean Jorge Bocobo (the most cheerful middle-aged man I have ever met in my life) writes a piece about traditional media and blogging.
OK: the unfortunate thing here is that I come from both traditional media and new media. While I do not hold the monopoly of knowledge about this topic… oh well, here goes nothing: I think that any distinction between “mainstream media” and “blogging” that puts one above the other – or more impactful or more insightful than the other – is complete bollocks.
I think that rather than emphasize the differences between traditional media and blogging – or at the very least force them to exist with bloody borders – we should focus on the relationship between them. Whenever I write an opinion or commentary piece in The Marocharim Experiment or Filipino Voices, I rely on traditional media to get my facts straight. That will involve reading a lot of newspapers. To say that I can write commentary without using the coverage of a newspaper (whether in the virtual form or an actual paper) is not only arrogant, but it’s misguided.
For one thing, it is possible to say that just because traditional media featured blogs recently, quite a few bloggers sorta rode the bandwagon and had an inflated sense of self-importance. Yet that would be pushing it; I think that the criticism (to paraphrase the Jester-in-Exile) is that many of us in the blogosphere do not understand traditional media. Many, if not most, bloggers do not work in traditional media. The reverse is true for journalists; many, if not most, traditional media practitioners do not blog.
I’m tempted to write in terms of the theoretical and invoke the spirit of Roland Barthes, but screw that. I’ll write here in terms of what I understand and what I believe in. Bullet points:
- On writing: It’s write to express, not to impress, but these two are not mutually exclusive. You can write expressively and impressively at the same time.
- On credibility: No blog lasts long if it doesn’t have credibility, currency, and a readership.
- On issues: Everyone has the right to express an opinion, but the voice that resonates more clearly is that of a person with a better understanding of things, and who can communicate that understanding clearer.
This is why I think a lot of bloggers tend to oversimplify things and issues in terms of the pedestrian, ordinary understanding of ordinary people. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s just that I think this idea frames the conflict, at least from my perspective. That is its strength, and at the same time, its weakness. Look at it this way:
- It is advantageous because it validates and enforces the public to be more aware, concerned, and (I so hate this word) proactive about issues that concern and affect them. After all, if you’re a journalist, you’re limited by professional requirements and canons, codes of ethics, editorial policy, and time and space. If you’re a blogger, you can always communicate and commentate about issues as an individual, not bound by any rules, writing the way you want, and have these thoughts spread at an instant.
- It is disadvantageous because too many social, political, economic, and even personal issues require a certain measure of expertise and knowledge so that we can understand them. The problem here is that the blogger is an army of one; you can only understand one side of the issue in one blog. No personal blog in the world has the same resources as a traditional media outfit.
I think the key thing here is to realize that a medium has its limits. Having those limits, it’s very important to disclose who we are, from what perspective we come from, be able to admit where we’re wrong, and most importantly, be able to assert where we’re right.
In effect, the hoopla all boils down – in my sick alcoholic mind screwed up by chain-smoking – to two short points:
- Disclosure: People should be able to pinpoint where their perspectives come from.
- Clear communication: The clearer we can communicate an idea, the better off everyone is.
Anyway, more when I feel like it.