Saturday, February 12, 2005

Eason Jordan resigns and I don't feel so well myself

CNN chief news exec Eason Jordan resigned yesterday and the blogosphere is crowing about it. And I wonder if I'm the only one just a bit distrubed by this. If Rathergate wasn't proof enough of the power of blogs, this should do it.

There's no question that Eason Jordan made slanderous comments against our military. But the speed and ferocity of the blogswarm on this story is more than a little unsettling.

Since I started blogging, I have been occasionally startled to discover who has been reading my blog. A couple of times, the very people who figured into the news items I wrote about actually took time to respond here and/or correct something. It came as a shock to me. And those are just the ones I knew about.

I shouldn't have been surprised. I did a brief stint in the Tee Vee News Biz, so I'm familiar with the power of broadcast media, even if I've forgotten in the years since. I've spent more than a decade writing things that other people read. Blogging is just a hobby for me.

But it's a very powerful hobby. It's a hobby that has the potential to destroy anyone. I'm just a tiny low-traffic blog, but even I have that power.

Bloggers have been compared to the villagers with their torches and pitchforks storming the castles of the media aristocracy. Was this a "witch hunt"? A "high-tech lynching"? Those descriptions may be a bit extreme, but perhaps they're not all that off the mark. When the power of the blogosphere is unleashed on someone like Dan Rather, Trent Lott, or Ward Churchill, there is undoutedly a mob mentality that sets in, and the blogswarm is sustained by its own energy.

The Eason Jordan incident should not be a time to celebrate the power of blogs over the dreaded "MSM" -- there shouldn't be any question about that now -- it should a time for sober reflection on what blogs have done and what blogs can do.

This time it was Eason Jordan. Next time it could be me. Or you.

If you have a blog -- even a very small one -- you have tapped into an awful source of power. And if you're looking at the Eason Jordan incident, rubbing your hands with glee, and picking out your next target, you worry me.

More commentary this way.


At 11:23 AM, Blogger Jib said...

Ditto. And kudos for saying it. I was thinking it last night but didn't have the juevos to write it.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lesson from Rathergate and Eason is stop lying. There is no problem with telling the truth even if it is contrary to the MSM party line. When you smear America with obvious lies - Rathergate - then you give the blogs ammunition. No lie - no ammunition.
Rod Stanton

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Drew said...

"If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about," is far too similar to sentiments like "If you've got nothing to hide, you won't object to this mandatory drug test."

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Doug said...

Great post. Thought provoking. I blogged about it at my site. Consider this an old-fashioned trackback.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Muzzy said...

Good post, sir. I agree with you in large part. There is a measure of power involved in blogging, and therefore, responsibility.

I'm not sure I DO agree with you in your response to 'anon,' above, though. Mandatory drug tests are government imposed. A blog swarm is simply the power of the press parceled out to hundreds or thousands of citizen-journalists. We ARE now part of the fourth estate.

In the Jordan case, it's instructivee that he lied, then he lied about the lying, then he stonewalled the very evidence (the tape of the remarks) that could of exonerated him. If he'd come clean at the outset, he'd probably still have his job.

I DO think your concern is valid, and I think it's something bloggers should ponder in the weeks and months ahead: what is my responsibility in all this?

If I may quote myself, from my review of Hewitt's book Blog:

"In the coming years I predict there will be some measure of professionalization of the Blogosphere, with degrees being granted through technical colleges and universities. Anyone will still be able to put up a Blog, but to be taken seriously, professional Bloggers may need to join associations and pay dues and to have their work audited by standards committees."

I must say, I think it will come to that.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger Drew said...

Thanks for the link, Doug. For me, it wasn't just the almost-palpable power of blogs that sent a shiver down my spine. It was that power combined with the whirlwind speed of the blogswarm that's got my head spinning. I would not care to be on the receiving end of it.

You may be right that justice was done here. I'm not going to debate that as I sat on the sidelines for the whole controversy. But I suspect it won't be long before we see a major injustice committed by blogs in the frenzy of a blogswarm, and the damage done to someone's reputation or livelihood will be irreversible.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Doug said...

But is it truly irreversable?

Or is that impression caused by the old media's habit to plaster juicy attacks in headlines page one, and corrections in small-type on page A-32?


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