Small Inconvenient Truths

What a messMr. Gore has his inconvenient truths, and I have mine. Not that they have much in common; his are exceedingly large, while mine are small, like snail whiskers. During the course of the past twelve months, it's become painfully obvious that I am not, and have never been, a journalist. Were I to attempt such a thing, I fear the result would have more in common with gonzo journalism. This should frighten you, too. Still, there's a certain allure—the magnetism of words, probably—to the profession that causes me to return, periodically, to the subject in spite of myself. Dangerous, I know, and yet I must.

I'm reasonably certain that Dan Gillmor's article in the San Francisco Chronicle last week was aimed more at professional journalists than the general public, but some of it could be applied to virtually anyone who uses the Web as a publishing medium, journalistic or not. From my hungry vantage point, his statements concerning derision of all manner of citizen media that don't meet traditional criteria are certainly food for thought.

Deriding "basement bloggers" and citizen media creators of all kinds, with no recognition of the enormous variety in the genre, betrays insufficient knowledge, if not willful blindness. No, most blogging and other citizen media aren't journalism. So what? Neither is most writing on paper, most photography, most video or most anything else.

The attempt to marginalize, if not eliminate, the creative products of imagination that sometimes graze the borders of journalism seems misguided at best. If the object is nothing more than traditionalism, we may as well just get it over with and require registration for everyone who wishes to use the Internet for anything beyond mere entertainment. Those lacking the proper credentials ought to be prevented from participating, because we all know what happens when boundaries are ignored, or worse, when they're deliberately pushed beyond their traditional moorings.

You get a bunch of unruly kids who can't keep their crayons within the lines, that's what. Some might call that a mess, but experimental pursuits are often messy, especially at first. So what?


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