IN PRAISE OF BLOGGING….I’m reading Bob Schieffer’s book This Just In right now, and for some reason a paragraph in the first chapter got me thinking. He’s talking about the TV coverage of JFK’s assassination and says:

For the first time, Americans were seeing what the reporters saw; no longer would they have to wait to read what the reporters had written about it. From then on, they would compare their own observations to those of the reporters.

I’ve also read a lot of old small-town newspapers over the past year as part of my genealogy hobby, and one of the things you immediately notice about them is how raw and unedited they were. It was basically just the editor ? who was also publisher, circulation manager, and typesetter ? talking to his audience. Television news in 1963 was probably pretty similar: just a camera and a reporter talking about what they saw.

And it occurs to me that this explains some of the popularity of blogs too: the very fact that they aren’t professional attracts us. Television, of course, passed the ultra-professional-highly-filtered-snazzy-graphics threshold years ago, and for that reason probably leaves many of us unsatisfied. Not because we think they’re deliberately lying to us, but because we instinctively know that their very professionalism gets in the way of just telling us what’s happening. When every story consists of a fancy graphic and a 45-second spot edited to within an inch of its life, you know that what you’re seeing bears the same resemblance to real life that a Playboy centerfold does to the girl next door.

Blogs, of course, don’t provide much in the way of original reporting, but they do provide us what those old small-town newspapers did before they grew up: a quick and conversational combination of news, opinion, gossip, and weird personal idiosyncrasies. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s real.

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