I finished watching the panel on Political Blogging with panelists including David Weinberger, Doc Searls, Halley Suitt, Cam Barrett and Mitch Radcliffe. I’m not going to attempt to capture what was discussed; it would be foolish to even pretend I could do that in a hastily composed post. But one thing I do want to talk about is the comparison of blogs to the mainstream media.
Someone suggested that weblogs suffer from the ‘echo-chamber’ problem (I call it the ‘choir preaching to itself’ problem). David Weinberger made an appropriately balancing comment when he said “if you want to see a real echo chamber go out to your front porch and pick up your local paper.” Doc Searls then noted that some blogs which point in a strong polictical direction will often run against their own grain, giving as an example Andrew Sullivan (a conservative Republican supporter) who is often critical of George W. Bush.
Yes, this is one thing about blogs that is powerful and which the mainstream media doesn’t seem to get. The mainstream media has been pretending for years that it is unbiased, and it may, institutionally, try to meet that objective, it fails in actual practice. Not always and not in every context, but it fails often enough in ways that could be easily avoided. How? By simply conceding that effective reporting doesn’t require complete objectivity.
I’m more interested in reading Andrew Sullivan’s criticism of the President than I am in reading someone whose political bias is completely against all things Republican. And, incidentally, if you haven’t read his criticism of Bush’s appearance on Meet the Press, then by all means go read it now.