The servants’ table

I remain wary of those eager to label blogging a revolution and skeptical when people claim that the mainstream media “doesn’t get it.” But then there is something like this:

I think we would be poorly served as a nation were the primary news-gatherers to fall on such hard times that we had to count on bloggers for accuracy and fairness. We tend to undervalue the job that news organizations do, especially when they pull a Janet Cooke or Jayson Blair. But god help us if the Fourth Estate was not there to keep the other three (Kings, Lords, and Commons) in check, and keep us informed.

When bloggers start schlepping down to check the police blotter at 3 a.m. just to make sure the victim’s name is spelled correctly, then they can pull up a chair to the adult table.

I don’t think this represents a broadly held attitude, but if it does, I can see why some find journalists condescending and ill-informed.

First, why is it that they feel they have a legitimate monopoly on the production of public discourse? The idea that blogging will replace professional journalism, while it may be featured infrequently in discussions on both extremes of the political spectrum, seems to thrive largely as a straw man for those in the news media who are fearful of critique.

As for the “adults table” comment, nothing could better illustrate the kind of arrogance that so irritates many among the “children” who pay the salaries of professional journalists. They are paid to schlep to check the police blotter, attend press conferences, and parachute into war zones. That doesn’t make them adults, it is their job.

Now, it turns out that recently citizens — amateurs — have broken some big stories. Rather than becoming defensive, those journalists who are professionals will welcome the renewed public interest in their work, and will remember that the power vested in them as the Fourth Estate comes with responsibility to us: the public, the bloggers, and their customers.

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