Purportedly one of the advantages of the computer era is that citizens with blogs will provide backup for the news media staffs that are stretched to the breaking point by cost cutting layoffs. There is danger in letting that bit of reassuring nonsense go unchallenged because if the backup capabilities of the citizen journalist is nothing more than an urban legend, then any unscrupulous villain who wanted to manipulate public opinion would have the public relying on a safety measure that was fictional and thus have a better chance of fooling the citizens with a lineup of meek and subservient lackeys providing the ruse of a Potemkin Journalism Industry which would (ostensibly) delight in reporting the very sham which they are helping to perpetrate.
Any blogger who uttered such First Amendment blasphemy would be expected to provide an example of a bit of news which would provide a text book perfect example of a news item that was being ignored by the media when it should be brought to the public’s attention. It would be even more convincing if such a blogger were to provide several stealth news items which if taken together would make a strong case for any wild conspiracy theory about how bloggers have as much sway with national media as Hans Brinker did with his neighbors.
Americans, who expect their media to use their Constitutional right to inform the citizens of any governmental misconduct, are often very condescending when evaluating the fact that inGermanyduring the Third Reich era, the news media there let national policy go unchallenged.
In the summer of 2011, are the journalists ofAmericapointing out that after three months of conducting air strikes against Col. Qaddafi to protect that country’s inhabitants from his wrath, he continues to live? Beyond the irony of the fact that a small rag-tag band of fanatical amateur members of al Qaeda achieved their goal in one day and the USA with state of the art technical weaponry, the best spy information that money can buy, intelligence gathered by satellites, and a minor amount of anti-aircraft protection from the Libyans, they still haven’t been able to kill the one man who is their target and thereby opens up a chance that the USA will inadvertently bestow a folk hero status (a la Zorro?) on the elusive Libyan leader.
Will American media point out any collateral damage attached to the extreme effort to kill just one man? Other than one rogue story about one example of civilian casualties have American media reported any possibility that extensive collateral damage makes a mockery of the concept of unleashing a massive amount of explosives to protect the Libyans from the fellow who has been that country’s leader for almost 40 years?
A one hundred day series of air strikes to protect the citizens ofLibyafrom their leader has been successfully marketed as a humanitarian effort. Shouldn’t the ever vigilant American media offer an explanation about whether theLibyamission ranks above or below the bombing ofGuernicaon the humanitarian effort scale?
IfCol.Qaddafi were killed in an air strike today, would the air strikes continue? If so would Americans be provided with any explanation? Silence implies consent and the American free press is very silent about the effort to kill Col. Qaddafi.
If, as some outspoken progressive pundits would have their audiences believe, there is a concerted Republican effort to break unions, shouldn’t some of the sports departments assigned to cover American football and basketball games be offering up some conjecture about the possibility that two simultaneous lockouts in theUSAsports scene are part of that political trend? Will a baseball lockout be next?
If a movie critic with a well respected reputation were to write a reevaluation of the 1980 movie, “The Formula,” and ask if the Germans during World War II were able to use coal to produce gasoline back then why isn’t that scientific achievement being used now to help stabilize prices at that gas pump in the USA? Wouldn’t the various editorial departments pick that up as a way to cope with the journalistic challenge of the dog days of summer? If the concept of citizen journalists providing backup for the national media is valid, wouldn’t a citizen blogger who asked these questions produce a mainstream media reaction?
[Note: An online columnist who asks questions that the mainstream media won’t is usually classified as a conspiracy theory crazy and is therefore ineligible to be an example of citizen journalism in action. The real question is: Should such unmanageable “loose cannon” writers even be considered to be human beings?]
One hand washes the other. If the idea that the German method for producing gasoline from coal would embarrass the big oil companies, then perhaps it is just an exaggerated example of “interline courtesy” to assume that media would be mum about such a footnote from the history books and let the oil companies maintain their high prices by perpetuating the “lost technology” myth about the German source for gasoline during World War II.
It has been suggested that the citizen groups inCaliforniathat will assist in the efforts to redraw the new Congressional district maps are being swamped with applicants from the Tea Party side of the political spectrum. Aren’t the assignment desks at the New York Times and CBS sure to pounce on that story the first time a blogger mentions it? Or is the concept of “citizen journalist” just an urban legend?
If citizen journalism were a valid concept, wouldn’t there be annual awards for the best blogger scoops? You don’t expect the Pulitzer folks to hand out one of their awards to someone who scooped all ofAmerica’s editorial writers, do ya? To the best of our knowledge, there are no citizen journalist awards. Do they actually exist but suffer from an unknown gentlemen’s agreement among media to not give them any publicity? If you believe that, then you are eligible to apply for membership in the group that does give out awards for the year’s best new conspiracy theories.
Go back to sleep, America. On Saturday, this columnist noticed a story, posted online, with a headline indicating that President Obama has already lost the Budget Crises battle.
For the closing quote, we will allude to the movie line where Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman) says: “I’m just standin’ in the rain talkin’ to myself.”
Now the disk jockey will play “One is the loneliest number,” “Alone again, naturally,” and Patsy Cline’s version of “Crazy” (which was written by Willie Nelson [more than fifty years ago?]). We have to go make a design so we can get rich selling “Four more Years!” T-shirts. Have a “Tell Mr. DeMille I’m ready for my close-up!” type week.