Oh those damned bloggers!

I’ve been blogging since 2002 (twenty oh two), and the blogosphere is still widely regarded as this hostile, “wild west” region of the media world, where one enters at their own risk and where facts are treated with, at a minimum, disdain. You’d think we would have grown past that by now, but it continues run amok, especially where it’s convenient to making one’s point. The argument about the blogosphere’s “legitimacy” vis-a-vis journalism will likely never end, because there is no governor in this universe. People can believe what they wish and say what they wish here. Oh the humanity!

This leads to two stories in the news today. One, the TSA has apologized to two bloggers that agents strong-armed this week for publishing a unclassified security directive in the wake of the underwear bomber in Detroit Christmas day. This story is filled with implications that bloggers are renegades who threaten the government, even though portions of the directive were also published on airline sites. Read the Wired story (above link), and see if you don’t come away with a sense that the government lumps all bloggers into the same counter-culture basket.

“Cough, cough. Those damned bloggers are, cough, cough, giving comfort to the enemy!”

The second story is even more disturbing, because the comment about bloggers is made in passing. It’s the kind of thing that influences people reading it, because nobody feels it’s necessary to challenge such a statement. The story is the whole business between Texas Tech University, its former head coach and an athlete who filed suit against the university, alleging that the coach had mistreated him in the wake of a concussion. If you’re unfamiliar, just Google Mike Leach (the coach).

In a piece about an assistant coach who supports the fired coach, ESPN.com notes online threats made against the player.

In the town north of Dallas where the James family lives, police have beefed up patrols around the home because of threatening statements made online.

“Nothing has happened at the house, but everybody knows what’s occurred on the blogs over there, so it’s precautionary to the threats being made,” Celina Police Chief Joe Williams said Thursday.

“The blogs over there.” Notice the ease with which the police chief pigeon holes the medium while referencing threatening statements. It’s not people making these statements; it’s “the blogs.” The practice is called stereotyping, and it’s just as ugly here as it is with race, gender or religion.

I’ll admit that I might be a little over-sensitive, folks, but this is the reality I see. If the cultural status quo gets a chance to badmouth the blogosphere, it will do so.

I’ve told the story before of attending a conference with big name journalists a couple of years ago about the future of the trade. It began with a video presentation by NBC anchor Brian Williams, who spoke of the dangers of the blogosphere. To make his case, he quoted from an obscure blog about nasal hair, punctuating each ridiculous quote with a raised eyebrow and condescension so thick that it was smothering.

Those damned bloggers! If only they’d just go away.

Not a chance.

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