Consider the Source

More often than not, I think Atrios is a pretty good commentator, but I think he misses an opportunity to get to the bottom of the issue with this post:
Someone pens a letter to Romenesko which says:

Can we please dispense with the non-debate over blogs? They are nothing more than the Web's version of talk radiio. [sic]

I think this comparison is worthwhile enough for discussion. It's meant as an insult to both, but for years the rest of the media ignored talk radio (they still do). I wish a tenth of the attention given to dissecting the meaning of blogs had been given to talk radio. I wish all the media people tut-tutting bloggers would listen to a bit of talk radio every now and then. That would give them some perspective that they are sorely lacking.

The key difference between talk radio and blogs is sourcing. Even when audio clips are played on the radio as source material for a particular point being made, they are edited, and it’s often not simple to find the original source material in its entirety. One could argue that bloggers edit articles in a similar way, but the difference is that usually such edits are accompanied by a link to the original source material, which makes discerning context much more easily and immediately accessible.

Simply by nature of blogs being an internet property, readers have huge amounts of information at hand, if they are interested in contextualizing content. On the other hand, talk radio tends to depend on listeners’ distance from the source material. By the time the clip has been played, the discussion has been had, and opinions have been formed, any desire to authenticate the veracity of the clip on which the point was based is likely long gone. Many a time have I read a blog post only to click through to the sourced article and discover that I draw a much different conclusion from the details than did the post’s author.

Of course, not all information is reliable; just because there’s a link to something doesn’t make it true. But it seems to me that there’s something inherently more indicative of a pursuit of truth in blogging than in talk radio. There are blogs that are fonts of misinformation to be sure, but generally, talk radio personalities are entertainers first and information disseminators second, whereas political bloggers depend wholly on information to power their engines.

As in all endeavors, there are good bloggers and bad, but I don’t think the poorest of the lot undermines the difference—we encourage our audience to seek the source, whereas talk radio seeks to dazzle the audience with bombast until source is of no concern at all.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus