Friday, November 25


Chew on this from a column by Kathleen Parker, published in today's Houston Chronicle:

As much as we've heard about the slow death of newspapers — "mainstream media," as disaffected bloggers like to call us — we've heard little about why this is no cause for celebration. A so-called "victory" for the blogosphere vis-a-vis declining newspaper readership is very much a defeat for the freedoms we take for granted.

The word "disaffected" means "unfriendly, discontented and disloyal," according to Websters. Now, to be sure, I use the term "mainstream media" in my blogging and, admittedly, oftentimes in a pejorative sense when I am pointing to the perpetual leftist slant that is usually far from confined to the Op-Ed pages of many major metropolitan newspapers (e.g., the New York Times is a case in point). But in doing so I'm not hoping for (or on any collective blogging mission to effect) the demise of newspapers. And, goodness, I can't be disloyal to a newspaper -- say, the Houston Chronicle -- because newspapers, even good ones, don't merit "loyalty," certainly not in the sense one is loyal to the Dallas Cowboys or the Boston Red Sox or the Philadelphia Flyers. Shouldn't it be enough that we read them and quote them and discuss them and periodically respond to them with posts or Letters-To-The-Editors?

Bloggers are not the enemy of the media. Editorial boards and newspaper owners who refuse to offer fair and balanced reporting and whose editorial slant offers a persistent progressive-secularist agenda, while feigning objectivity, are. That is what gets in the craw of those of us on the conservative side of the blogosphere. But, fact is, what we most often do is read, digest, and comment on stories and Op-Ed pieces we read in the mainstream media. And we link regularly to them! So what's with the anti-blogger bias of Kathleen's piece?

Here's another shot from Ms. Parker:

Newspapers serve their communities in ways that can't be replicated by bloggers — noble-spirited, smart and entertaining as many often are — or by anyone else. They not only help define a given community, but also serve as both government watchdog and information conduit. They have the resources to investigate, to report, to inform as no other entity can, does or will.

That's a compelling observation, but not correct in all instances. The Houston Chronicle includes in its online edition (and to its credit) a growing list of bloggers. And when Hurricane Rita directly threatened the Houston-Galveston area, the Chronicle's Dwight Silverman solicited the assistance of Houston-area bloggers to provide real-time reports on the storm system and its impact on different geographical areas in the region. And while I do not discount for a minute that "newspapers serve their communities," they can also do a disservice and harm the very communities from which they draw their readers. The Houston Chronicle, as an example, supports Houston's Sanctuary City status and disdains The Minuteman Project, and at the same time that 350,000 - 400,000 illegal aliens -- lawbreakers one and all -- roam Houston's streets. So the record is mixed and Ms. Parker overstates her case.

And in the case of the CBS News/Dan Rather reporting on President Bush's Texas Air National Guard record during the 2004 election, did Texas-based newspapers with the resources at their disposal do a better job of separating the wheat from the chaff than conservative bloggers did? I think not; I know not.

FOLLOW-UP: Here's a classic example of what Kathleen Parker would call a "disaffected blogger" -- namely, my friend Frank Laughter of Common Sense Junction, as here's Frank in this post taking on the mainstream media (e.g., ABC News and NBC News). Frank's issue is that the MSM likes to point to the number of deaths (KIAs) of American soldiers and Marines in Iraq, and particularly their milestones in the thousands, as emblematic of a war gone bad and a mission not being achieved. But Frank tries to put those combat deaths in perspective against the death rates of Americans killed in action in two other wars, as well as here in our own homeland as a result of homicides and various types of injuries. His point is that the MSM more often than not paints the grimmest of pictures when citing the death rates in Iraq and never from the perspective of whether or not those deaths are unacceptably disproportionate to the deaths of the enemy -- the terrorists -- or unacceptable in the context of what is being achieved.