Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Talk, Talk, Blog, Blog

I was listening to Randi Rhodes on local progressive radio. I was into it...until she segued into reading a commercial for a PC remote desktop software company.

Sorry, but that's not change I can believe in.

Talk radio is a self-promoting commercial enterprise - whether it tacks to the right or the left. What's the democratic alternative? Blogs. Podcasting. Viral video. The blogosphere brought with it the promise of decentralizing communication. It enabled lateral conversations, as opposed to the top-down, vertical dissemination of information and opinion to which we've become accustomed.

But hegemonies die hard. Many of us treat the Internet and blogging as a top-down enterprise - discussing the same stories, linking to the same sites. We cavort along to the latest outrage over the bad words that came out of John McCain's mouth two decades ago, or the outrageous covers of upper-class liberal rags. As bloggers ourselves, we angle to score exclusives that will bring us personal fame and fortune. We allow mega-blogs and super-bloggers to determine the course of the national conversation. We replicate the top-down structure of Old Media.

It's not surprising that, just as blogging began to reach its peak, the mainstream media was polluted with stories about the horrors of blogging. Anyone can do it! You can't vouch for the authenticity of information! You NEEEED us! And yes - we do need good, solid, independent reporting. But that can come from both the professional journalist and the talented amateur. But the MSM's backlash wasn't about journalistic integrity; it was a bid to retain control of the story line.

Democracy doesn't need anyone's permission. And it doesn't need an ossified pool of liberal celebrities, either - whether they got their start as radio celebs or as "lonely bloggers". It needs citizens engaged in conversation.