Beholding the mote

Aug 31, 2004

Saturday morning, I attended the Piedmont Blogging Conference in Greensboro. It was organized by Ed Cone, and he did a fine job gathering a diverse group of bloggers, journalists and politicians. I didn’t speak up—which the ever-observant Ed took notice of—but I was thoroughly engaged. See this page for a good rundown of the event.

My blog-and-media reading over the last few weeks frustrated me, since it seemed that America was more and more fixated on smaller and smaller blemishes of our candidates, culture and community—reminds me of a Chuck Close portrait of or A Sunday on La Grand Jatte, that fantastic display of pointillism that invites you to peer closer now, closer. Spend a day on Instapundit and you’ll see what I mean – “death by a thousand nicks” as my friend Mark Schreiner said on our ride home from the blog confernce (Mark’s in NYC for the RNC now—read his reports here).

Anyway, the blog conference clarified things for me. As the group discussed weblogs in relation to journalism (best quote: “journalism is a craft, weblogs are a medium”), I realized that blogs apply an ever-magnifying focus on issues, debating smaller and smaller points of information (Kerry’s proximity to Cambodia on Christmas day, closer than the men’s 4×100 Olympic track relay) so much so that at times it seems as if the blogosphere is staring down a voracious black hole (sure, I know, even Stephen Hawking says some information can escape from a black hole—but only a little).

This isn’t to discount weblogs peering at the pores of humanity. I’m particularly interested in Josh Marshall’s attention to Bush campaign talking points that 527 groups are accusing Bush of “poisoning pregnant women.” Read the details here.

But perhaps, in this blog-driven media world, newspapers can offer us the arm-length perspective missing from the blogosphere. Newspapers no longer should be concerned with printing all the news that’s fit to print – blogs have taken that challenge and magnified it beyond control. Maybe newspapers can serve us by standing at the back of the gallery and telling us what’s going on all around us when we’re so busy peering at infinity.

Anton Zuiker

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