Everybody’s got one


One of the most grating beliefs I come across that people have about political blogging is the notion that when we offer ourselves as alternatives to the mainstream media, we are declaring ourselves “citizen journalists”. I blame the right wing of the blogosphere for this nonsense. They bought the hoary old lie that actual reality-based journalism is the “liberal” media and not to be trusted. “Citizen journalism”, then, was just a continuation of the right wing assault on reality, which stretches from global warming denial to Bush’s lies about Iraqi WMDs to creationism to abstinence-only “education”. Right wing “citizen journalists” get most frantic when attacking genuinely decent journalism, and they are motivated to replace the remnants of good journalism with a right wing propaganda mill. Needless to say, the right hardly needs their volunteer army of truth deniers and propagandists, since the right wing noise machine is rather well-funded, which makes “citizen journalism” somewhat redundant and certainly no threat to the media establishment, though they console themselves by harassing one target after another. But no, it has no relationship to actual journalism.

Nor does the left blogosphere. There are some bloggers who do journalist work, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Truth told, good journalism is so utterly time-consuming and thankless that you need to farm it out to paying publications for compensation, so most bloggers who do that work will publish it outside of their blogs. But what left wing bloggers do offer is an opinion and analysis alternative, and as Mike says, a good deal of the time they simply are legions better than the paid pundits. For some reason, though, this obvious point about blogs is somehow avoided in most conversations about them.

I always found the righty-blog notion that bloggers would replace journalists idiotic. Actual reporting is difficult work, which usually requires some sort of institutional support, even to be done poorly, let alone well. It seemed pretty obvious to me from the start that the blogs were about opining, not reporting (with a few exceptions, of course). As Amanda notes, somehow the reality-deprived right wingers saw things differently. And how’s that working out? Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed all groundbreaking citizen-journalist-reported stories that Pajamas Media has broken since its inception.