Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the trouble with bloggers

I've just been reading a few blog posts criticizing David Luhnow's Mexico coverage in the Wall Street Journal, and thought I'd weigh in on blogs – and the problems with them.

Blogs are great, they allow the average person to disseminate their views, opine about whatever they like, and sometimes, offer a better version of the truth than the mainstream media. With all the cutbacks today in the mainstream press, blogs are more welcome than ever.

But... blogs suffer from their inherent form, which is to bounce off news, rather than report it. And because of their lack of understanding of the media, bloggers often end up being overly critical of material that is out there, rather like a nagging spouse or child who really doesn't know what they're talking about but desperately wants to be heard.

Bloggers, understand this: journalists are just people. Foreign correspondents, who most of you like to hate, are people who have covered many parts of the world; they are not experts in the local like some of you. Their talent lies in their ability to decipher events from their perspective and in a way that their readership, a wide readership often consisting of people who don't even know where mexico is on the world map, will understand. They are not the final authority, they are just interpreters.

Many bloggers don't seem to understand this; if a blogger doesn't agree with a correspondent's take, he tends to get offended and rant about it. Here's an idea: you don't like someone's take on a situation? Explain to me your view, but don't tell me it's right. I'll decide for myself.

1 comment:

  1. I generally like the WSJ on Mexico (though I'm not sure if that's more a reflection of Luhnow or their other correspondents), so I'm a bit biased, but one piece of criticism that seemed unfair was that he contradicted himself in two separate pieces. If you put the two pieces next to each other, of course it looks a little silly, but the thing is, it's impossible to write and think honestly about Mexico's organized crime problems without contradicting yourself at times. It's a subject that is just too complex and dynamic and often rife with inherent contradictions. And the longer you write about, the more likely contradictions become, either because you change your mind on something, or because circumstances change, or both.