Monday, August 20, 2007

Shut up and read

Breakfast in America
Originally uploaded by Ale*
I have been in the US now for more than a week and haven't posted a single thing linked to television. American television would turn me into a couch potato in a few days. Just the fact that in the house I am staying at they have something like 300 channels. I find it difficult to understand that someone can even concentrate on a programme without flicking through the others for something better.

By watching the current affairs TV programmes, one could easily think that the presidential elections are next week. From Meet the Press to Face The Nation they all concentrate on Hillary or not Hillary at the moment. Yesterday's Meet The Press (political journalists commenting on current affairs) one of the biggest topics was the decline in Barack Obama's popularity. The question these professionals were pondering was whether Hillary is starting to be unbeatable.

Ah yes, professionals. Yesterday's LA Times had one of those articles about professional commentators which I thought were already past times. Professor of Journalism Michael Skube from Elon University of North Carolina (Pulitzer winner) shared with us his concern for the way political discussion especially around the presidential elections is losing its quality. And his blaming finger - as a professional journalist - was pointing of course to blogs.

Some quotes from Mr Skube:
"One gets the uneasy sense that the blogosphere is a potpourri of opinion and little more. The opinions are occasionally informed, often tiresomely cranky and never in doubt." Skube also refers to blogging as "armchair commentary". He refers to a famous piece in a Washington Post in the following manner:"Such a story demanded time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, preseverance. It's not something one does as a hobby."

Just the obvious remarks to Mr Skube:

1. Have you checked what kind of scum and propaganda is on newsstands under the name of journalism?

2. Seeing the blogosphere as a unity is more than one would expect from a professor of journalism at a time when Senators, Editors-in-Chief and other professional journalists, Chairs of NGOs and researchers among many are blogging.

3. The whole blogging has to some extent challenged the idea of journalism as objective practice. I do agree with Mr Skube that our society needs more in-depth analytical discussion but to claim that can only be done by professional journalists is just silly. Many print journalists tend to think that print is superior to other media but just yesterday we saw at the Paley Center for Media (Museum of Television and Radio) how Sir David Frost mastered in interviews with Robert Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and Richard Nixon.

4. What would you suggest, Professor Skube? That bloggers would shut up? That politicians should stop listening to them? That we should all start writing for print journals? Where does your argument take us?

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