White Noise: News from Inside the Media Bubble
Blogging and democracy
In an era when journalism sees steadily declining readership and profit margins, those of us who toil in the industry are constantly improvising, trying out this idea or that, running with what works and casting off what doesn’t. Dynamic engagement of the citizenry is clearly in blogging, so we’ve hopped on the bandwagon. A new study released by Ball State University and University of Nevada-Reno suggests it’s all for naught. The study of political blogging in the fall 2006 election concluded, “Most newspaper staff-produced blogs contained a small number of postings, failed to create much interaction between the blogger and the audience and attracted few audience comments.” Still, looking at the current election, with a multitude of interesting but relatively obscure races that aren’t likely to make the front pages of the dailies, it’s easy to see that most of the juicy stuff is on the political reporters’ blogs.
Credit where it’s due
We take a few potshots at Winston-Salem’s own Greensboro Troublemaker, blogger Ben Holder, when we see the opportunity, but we’ve got to give him credit for the Rickroll of the year last week on April Fool’s Day. It started with a March 27 post about arrested Greensboro Police Officer BJ Coble, accused of fraud and identity theft. The post bloomed in the ensuing week with more than a hundred comments, some seemingly from officers within the GPD, revealing extramarital trysts, surreptitious arrests of police officers, confessions from old girlfriends and more than one insinuation about the sexuality of police Chief Tim Bellamy. On April Fool’s Day, Trub claimed that “a police officer along with three men in suits” came to his house, “…[a]uthorities that are not of the local kind… armed with a search warrant for my computer.” He said they were looking for IP addresses to trace some of the comments from the Coble thread. In the ensuing hoopla, wherein denizens of the local blogosphere weighed in on witness intimidation, the Nazi-like police state, the technical challenge of extracting commenters’ IP addresses from a home computer and no small share of praise for Holder’s bravura in the face of the law, a couple commenters asked to see the search warrant Holder had mentioned. Later that day he posted link to the warrant, which led directly to a video featuring the dulcet tones of Rick Astley. Never gonna give you up, Trub. After all, you are “A better journalist than the entire News & Record staff combined,” according to your website and, apparently, us.
Blogging might be bad for your health. None other than The New York Times’ Mark Richtel says so. In an article published Sunday, Richtel probes the deaths of bloggers Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant, both big-time bloggers who may have sacrificed their health, and ultimately their lives, in service to the cause. Twenty-two-year-old Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo.com, for instance, skimps on sleep and subsists on coffee and protein powder. Is it as romantic as Robert Capa standing atop the trenches, in a whirl of bodies and gunfire? Maybe not. But maybe someday we’ll remember Orchant and Russell as the Capas of their time – bravely hardening their arteries so you and I might know about the brutal realities of the MP3 wars.