VV is an aggregator of the political blogosphere in Tennessee and has grown to become a very influential voice in state politics. It’s written by A.C. Kleinheider, a very smart young man who lives and breathes politics and has a fairly comprehensive understanding of the way things work in the state (Nashville is the state capital).
On Tuesday, he wrote a thoughtful but controversial piece about the extremes to which certain elements in our culture have gone to portray our service men and women as saints. Over at NiT, Brittney Gilbert saw it as a noteworthy entry in the local blogosphere and mentioned it and her support of Kleinheider’s argument.
This didn’t sit well with right-wing talk show host Steve Gill, who basically called both A.C. and Brittney unpatriotic communists. Gill told his listeners to call the station and protest. A war of online words ensued, which led to a story in the Nashville City Paper.
This is a fascinating event, because it strikes at the heart of the conflict between Big J journalism and the personal media revolution. These two people are employed by the station but function in the world of Media 2.0, where the rules are vastly different. Gill wants (needs) for the station to play by the Media 1.0 rules, for that is precisely what the political PR world knows how to manipulate. He’s appealing to “the rules” to place his perspective front-and-center.
The two websites carry disclaimers, which ought to be enough for intelligent people to recognize. Not only do Brittney and A.C. have a right to their arguments, this whole notion that journalists are somehow separate from their own selves is an illusion that the web is shining its light on every day. Moreover, these two sites are aggregators and serve a tremendous public service by observing what’s being said in the local (and state political) blogosphere. They would be irrelevant sites if they didn’t engage the local bloggers at the same time. Both regularly comment on other people’s blogs as well, and this is as it should be.
This particular event is all about a right wing talk show host trying to get publicity, which is exactly what’s happening. What’s most interesting to me — and ought to be of interest to everybody — is the general reaction of the blogosphere itself. That’s where this issue was born and that’s where it belongs.
The conversation that is news can be a messy business, especially where it’s up-close and personal like it is in the immediate world of the blogosphere. Issues are discussed here in a way that’s not codified and neat, and frankly, I think that’s incredibly healthy for our culture. This particular matter is going to get even messier as the 2008 elections approach. The question is will media companies have the spine to engage it this way or will they cling to the safe harbor of same-o, same-o?
NOTE: In the minds of the right, anybody who doesn’t follow certain positions is on the left. This is hogwash, but it has served conservatism well for almost three decades in the U.S. As E.P. of The 700 Club in the early 80s, I helped create this meme, and I think it’s time it was put to bed.
(Disclosure: WKRN-TV is a former client and I helped develop both of these aggregators)