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January 27, 2004

The whole concept of blogs and blogging is getting a lot of coverage these days. Last night, NPR broadcast a two-hour special on blogs and politics ("The Blogging of the President 2004"), and our pal Billmon reports that the global elite networking soiree known as the World Economic Forum actually had a panel discussion on the topic "Will Mainstream Media Co-opt Blogs and the Internet?". So now is as good a time as any to write about the topic.

First of all, I feel kinda stupid writing about this at all. I'm a blogger, I have a blog, and I'm writing about the significance of blogging. Navel-gazing at its finest, with a tendency to self-congratulate, self-promote, and let one's self-importance soar. I'm not a proud man, and I've always preferred to let my work speak for itself, rather than try to point out to others how good or important or profound it is. I do what I do, people can like it or don't, it's not going to affect me that much. Several people have told me that my work has had great impact on them, which makes me feel good, and helps validate my own opinion that I do indeed write some good stuff.

Second of all, only a fraction of all blogs are politically-themed, a fact which is completely lost on most political bloggers. When political bloggers refer to blogs, bloggers, or the vague network of political bloggers often called "the blogosphere", they ignore everyone else. Truth to tell, most blogs are 14-year old girls gossiping about what happened at school, their latest celebrity crush, and the results of their "what kind of popstar/gumdrop/winged lizard are you?" personality quiz.

Which I suppose begs the question "what is a blog?" It's simply an online, web-based journal. Most are written by a single person, some are done in groups. They're really not much different than personal homepages (which were also championed as the end-all of personal freedom and democracy some years back), except that homepages were fairly static, while blogs add content frequently.

But in the world of political bloggers, and journalists who pay attention to political blogs, this is potentially the next step in media and journalism. Which in my opinion, is nonsense.

1) Bloggers are usually not journalists. We can be, but we usually simply absorb mainstream media, filter it, analyze it, critique it, mock it, pee on it, knit it into a nice scarf, etc. We also have the power to amplify certain stories. When we work together (usually in a non-organized, non-planned fashion), we can take a story that would be quickly forgotten and ignored, and give it new life.

2) Bloggers can influence bigger actors. Sometimes, a big name blogger will write or focus on a certain topic/issue/event, and a mainstream opinion columnist can take that nugget and run with it (sometimes the big name blogger got the idea from a less popular blogger, sometimes not). And once the columnist has written about it, it might actually get a decent amount of mainstream news coverage. Likewise, it's not inconceivable that a number of bloggers could have an influence on people like politicians.

3) Blog networks help put all news into a singular context. (Jeez, my years in academia are showing) When a person reads a number of related political blogs, written by authors who have similar opinions and/or worldviews, each news story gets jigsawed into a larger puzzle. Maybe bloggers aren't opinion makers or opinion shapers, but perception shapers. After reading half a dozen far left blogs on a regular basis, current events seem to fall into place more neatly.

But overall, I don't see bloggers and blogs as anything that hugely different or important. I was writing news and opinion articles and ranting about politics on the radio for years before I started blogging. Blog software made it easier to publish articles online than coding each article into a separate html page. And given the common features of the "genre", I could take some journalistic shortcuts (instead of explaining each term, person, organization, etc., I could just make the name a hyperlink to another page which gave details). And when I started my blog, I decided to use it primarily as a way to blow off steam while spending most of my time on "serious" journalistic articles, so the blog had a whole lot of attitude (which again, dovetailed nicely with the genre). And at a certain point, I saw that the blog was getting many more hits than my site of "legitimate" journalism. And the blog was a hell of a lot more fun. And that's how Lying Media Bastards Man came to be.

In conclusion,

Blogs. Eh, whatever.

Posted by Jake at 12:36 AM | TrackBack (0)

"And that's how Lying Media Bastards Man came to be."

Hee hee. Happy birthday to me!

Posted by: Piper at January 27, 2004 05:08 PM

Happy birthday, young'n. Hope you get snow.

Posted by: Jake at January 27, 2004 07:41 PM

haha, i did, i did! i haven't been to school all week. i'm telling you, it's the best birthday present ever.

Posted by: Piper at January 27, 2004 10:47 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ģ.

contact: jake+at+lyingmediabastards.com

Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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