Please forgive the look of the place - we're working on style sheet changes
I read Hugh Hewitt's book on blogs. It was well written for those who don't understand blogs, but nothing new to someone familiar with blogs. His facts were straight on and his chapter on blogging recommendations is a must read.
What Hugh did exceptionally well was explain what was why blogs are important, citing Pope Leo and the Reformation. Blogs are the new Gutenberg printing press. That's a tough sell in person.
I've had a terrible time trying to explain blogs to friends, family and clients over the last four years.
The responses I've received are:
1) Everything you read on the Internet is untrustworthy
2) No one who works has time to blog
4) Teenagers and cat-bloggers are a waste of time.
5) There's no accountability.
6) It's like Usenet or Yahoo groups
7) It's a fad.
What's tough about these responses is they are accurate for large portions of the blogosphere. Considering the number of blogs started and stopped, and the average age of bloggers hovering around 15, and the number of people how either "have" a blog, or "know a person with a blog," it's little wonder that such disparaging remarks are the normal response.
Then again - perhaps blogger triumphalism is a victim of it's own success. If I tell you blogs brought down Dan Rather, and the only blog you've ever read is your 13 year old daughter's, you're going to be skeptical. Of course if I told you the television is the number one way that people get their news and all you have is the Public Access channel or daytime soaps, you might be skeptical about television. If I told you newspaper reporters brought down a President, and the only paper read was the back pages of the Riverfront Times, you might be skeptical.
So let's compare apples to apples. Blogs are little league baseball, and the Mainstream Media is professional baseball.
So - blogs are Little League baseball, complete with screaming parents, crying kids, ice cream, warm sodas after the game, and marketing campaigns that sell chocolate to raise funds.
Mainstream Media is Professional Baseball, with lucrative television contracts, revenue-sharing, stadiums, and the world's best athletes. There's no contest right?
Little Leaguers dream of the big leagues - the fame, the fortune, the respect. They know the big leagues require more effort, more training and they deliver a better product. They know they have to work their way up through high school ball, the minors, and finally to the majors. That's the same as the blogs. Leaching off hyperlinks and commenting on the bigs like Maureen Dowd and George Will and Thomas Sowell, blogs started off as the Little Leagues - and some started out as teeball, or quit after one game.
But some had real talent, and a heck of a learning curve. And the fans of Little League prefer the pureness, the authenticity if you will of the sport over the overhyped professionalism of the big leagues.
Before Trent Lott and Howell Raines figured it out, the blogs had exposed them and started to realize their potential. When Dan Rather happened along, we suddenly had the blogosphere vs the Mainstream Media.
Dan Rather's Memogate was the New York Yankees vs the Bad News Bears. And the most amazing thing happened.
The Bad New Bears got base hits. They struck out Derek Jeter. They scored a couple of runs - and they won the game. And they started crowing about it.
The MSM and it's fans struck back, belittling blogs and their supporters like Yankees fans deriding a Little League Team. Yes, it's true the Yankees of the Media dominate for the rest of the season. But what does it say about the Yankees that blogs could get base hits and score runs, much less win the game? It means that either the blogs have more talent than expected, or the MSM has a lot less than it thought.
If there was a Little League team that could score on the Yankees, it wouldn't mean that all Little Leaguers could. It sure would mean that those Little Leaguers had a lot of talent.
And one more thing. Little Leaguers eventually grow up. What's going to happen when they play those same MSM Yankees in twenty years?