Thursday, January 04, 2007


The small readership of most blogs would strongly suggest that no blogs other than the top three or four could possibly have much influence on anything. That however overlooks something: Google and other search engines. Because they are heavily interlinked (well over 1,000 other blogs link to this one) blogs tend to have a high page-ranking in response to any search. That means that what blogs say on any given topic tends to pop up on the first page of any set of search results.

And who are big users of searches? Journalists. Like most people they Google their own name and they also of course Google any topic they are "researching". Googling is a lot easier that getting out of your chair and going to look in person at what you are talking about. So what blogs say tends to get picked up by journalists (and Right-wing radio commentators too) and, in their constant search for something new to report, the blog-origin information or perspective may rapidly find its way into what they write or say. They may not like what the blog says but they like being "scooped" by other journalists even less.

So it is not mainly a matter of blogs and the MSM competing. What has developed is a symbiosis between blogs and the MSM.

I had an amusing example of how blogs affect journalists recently. My Greenie Watch blog usually gets only about 400 hits a day so you might think that it is one of those many blogs that are destined to flower in the desert, forever unnoticed by almost anyone. Yet it is not so. I get all sorts of email from people and organizations I mention in it. The amusing example: On October 4, 2005, I put up there a post that had a good laugh at a delightfully-named British journalist called Andrew Buncombe (pronounced "bunkum"). It mocked the old polar bear scare that he was doing his best to promote in "The Independent", a very "Green" British mainstream newspaper.

Recently, however, the Bush administration threw the Greenies a bone by commissioning a report into whether the bears were "endangered" or not. This was hailed as a great triumph by Greenies, and Buncombe was one of those elated. So what was one of the first things he did when he learnt of the new move? He emailed me suggesting that I now owed him an apology for the bad things I had previously said about him! He had obviously been stewing for over a year in response to my comments and took the first opportunity he had to shoot back at me! Commissioning a report into an allegation was a very small triumph but Buncombe clutched at it like a drowning man to save his self-esteem!

So whether journalists just google their own name or the topic they are writing about, they do read what is on blogs and they do take notice of what they read there. Whether it just generates heartburn in them or leads them to follow up the matter in their own articles depends on their intellectual quality, of course.



Excerpt from a BBC broadcast below -- talking about what to expect in 2007:

Tim Jackson: I think the biggest trend is going to be something which I call "zombietiming." And it's exceptionally bad news for journalists, because it's a trend in which people out there on the Web will be checking facts of television, radio and newspapers, and hauling people to account when they get them wrong.

Lawrence Pollard: So, we could all be out of a job. Thank you, Tim. We'll hear more from that in a minute.... And so finally, we come to Tim Jackson for our last big trend of 2007. Now, Anna's just been telling us how 2007 will become less cynical, but Tim: you're predicting we're going to grow more skeptical. You've got the best name for a trend: "zombietiming." And now this goes back, I gather, to the enormous amount of argument in blogging sites and on the Internet over the reporting of a rocket attack during the Lebanon War. Basically, um, whether or not a Red Cross ambulance had been hit by an Israeli rocket, and if it had been reported properly by the news agencies and so.... This is a story that just mushroomed and went on and your point is that this is going to go on and grow and it's going to become one of the big things of 2007.

Tim Jackson: Absolutely. We all know that journalists work under tremendous time pressure. Like tennis players or policemen or soldiers, they have to find the right balance between doing the best job they can and getting it done in time, finishing it by the deadline. ... What the newspapers failed to grasp is that something has changed in the world of journalism. It used to be the case that readers decided a newspaper that they trusted, and then relied on the reporter once they picked their newspaper or their television station or their radio station. Now it seems to be the case that story by story, journalists have to expect that if they're making a controversial claim, they've got to back it up with proof. And the reason I call this trend "zombietiming" is because the Web site that brought together all this information is called ...

Mary Meehan: ... There is just this lack of trust out there. That lack of trust drives bloggers' needs to prove the media wrong and bust the myths and expose the lies -- y'know, be it lies or not -- and they have the power and the platform now to do it. They just don't trust something they can't see through. It's that transparency that they demand and expect. And they're gonna expose it if they can't get at it.




France still in deep trouble: "A car burns after a huge police operation involving 25,000 officers failed to quell one of the most entrenched new year rituals in France, with vandals - many of them children - setting on fire 313 vehicles throughout the country. The worst-hit region was Alsace, where 106 vehicles were set ablaze, including 28 in Strasbourg. The attacks are seen as a product of tension on the suburban estates that are home to the bulk of France's five-million-strong immigrant community. Most of the cars were burnt in areas with unemployment rates of up to 40 per cent. The national average is 8.7 per cent."

As this review of "Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews", by David Pryce-Jones shows, French antisemitism did not end with the Dreyfus case in the 19th century. It shows that throughout the 20th century France was relentlessly pro-Arab and anti-Israel. Their reward is of course Arabs setting their suburbs on fire -- so there is some justice after all.



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

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