Daily Archives: 13 September 2004

HNN on Liberty, Power, and Knowledge

Steven Horwitz has a good long essay on History News Network about the evolving roles of bloggers and media and other contributors to “open source” knowledge.

It seems to me that this incident is a triumph of liberty over power. For years, we’ve heard from both Right and Left that the “Big Media” are a problem. Each group thinks they are the handmaiden of the other group. What both appear to agree on is that they are near-all powerful entities who are growing unchecked like some electromagnetic cancer upon the land. The Left has long had the small alternative press, which tried to counter the power of the Big Guys, but with limited success, and it had academia. The Right, since the 80s anyway, has had the think-tank world (which I’ve always viewed as the alternative university for libertarians and conservatives who perceived themselves, perhaps wrongly, as being closed out of academic by what they saw as leftist power). However it had no real media of its own (Jim and Tammy Faye don’t count) until the advent of the Internet. There’s a reason the earliest and most well-known blogs lean conservative or libertarian: there was a latent demand for their services.

The net finally reduced the cost of publishing to near zero, at least on the margin, and radically democratized the knowledge production industry, especially investigative reporting.

via Trent Telenko’s compilation on Winds of Change headlined Mapping the Blogosphere’s Group Mind, which observes:

This is a radically egalitarian cultural development that is highly subversive of elitist hierarchies everywhere.

However, a WoC commenter links to a New York Post column by Ralph Peters that provides a sharp counterbalance. Headlined Net of Hate: Terror’s Tool:

In the 1990s, the Internet was destined to bring the world together, to the immeasurable benefit of humankind: Once we all were able to communicate cheaply and swiftly across borders and cultures, we would learn to understand and respect each other, to embrace and sing, if not “Kumbaya,” at least the latest download of Senegalese pop.

Instead, the ‘Net has become the most powerful tool for spreading hatred in history …

And yet, in a place where the official media foment hatred, people can find love on the Internet. Hossein Derakshan (Hoder) reports:

Internet: Iran’s Most Trusted Medium

Results of a recent interesting poll shows why hardline conservatives are so determined to shut down oppisition websites.

According to ISNA, the nation-wide poll shows that among various media, people have the most trust in the internet (45.5%), followed by Iranian TV and Radio (43.7%), satelite channels (25.2%), press (23%), and foreign-based radios (20%).

This could partly explain the recent aggresive crack down on reformist news websites.

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Old Soviet Forgeries

Regions of Mind has a meaty post on Soviet forgeries from the Cold War, along with a sample of propaganda posters from that era.

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Media Bigotry toward the South

Tim Chavez, a columnist for the Tennessean, apparently ignited a firestorm with a column about news media bigotry.

Ah, there’s nothing like igniting an electronic civil war from coast to coast. My Wednesday column on news media bigotry toward the South got lots of folks worked up….

Many print journalists do not want to understand. From most but not all of their responses, my industry is one of the few businesses in which the customer is always wrong. [Higher education is another!] Readers supposedly don’t understand the mystical ways of journalism. Readers supposedly do not understand the difference between news and editorial pages.

Bunk. These news consumers are smarter than they are given credit for. And journalists give themselves too much credit.

He includes several reader reactions. Here’s one.

Sally Logan wrote: “I’ve lived in New England all my life and now work at a typical New England, liberal arts college, and hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear some off-hand disparaging remark about the South or Southerners. I find the bias in the media and academia to be symptomatic of the lazy, liberal thinking that has dominated our culture for over three decades. Northern liberals are exactly what they believe Southerners to be: hidebound reactionaries who think in stereotypes.”

via One Hand Clapping

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The Mediahood of all Receivers

Arguing with Signposts posted a provocative entry on 03Sep04 (that’s how we did dates when I was in the Army) entitled The Media Reformation. I linked to it (at “Protestant Reformation”) in my last post, but I’d like to quote more of it here.

One of the core doctrines of the baptist strand of the Christian faith is the “priesthood of all believers.” This is a doctrine that flows from the Protestant Reformation which essentially says that all believers act as their own “priest,” able to approach God individually.

This is in contrast to the traditional Catholic understanding, whereby individual believers must seek absolution for their sins through the priest, who acts as a “go-between” for the believer to God. The Catholic understanding was based in the old testament Jewish practice, where one priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple, representing the entire nation of Israel.

In the rise of the blogosphere, and alternatives to the mainstream media (like Talk Radio), I see a “Media Reformation” taking place.

This is becoming evident in something I am calling the “Mediahood of all Receivers.”

No longer are the professional journalists the “priests” of the temple of information. Rather, information receivers are able to go around the media to access information on their own. But more than that, individual receivers are able to publish their own thoughts, in effect “becoming” the media.

As someone with both Baptist and Quaker roots, this certainly resonates with me.

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