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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The importance of blogs

I sense, that in the Kingdom of God, we have not been oriented and convinced that blogs are something we need to pay attention to and use as a tool for ministry.

If I could say it negatively, "why is it that we are so hestitant to invest ourselves into new methods and ways of sharing our faith?" Why must we wait until something "has been proven" before we use it?

Hopefully, this editorial from Mortimer B. Zuckerman (editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World) will help all us to realize the validity of blogs.

He writes, "Blogs are transforming the way Americans get information and think about important issues. It's a revolutionary change - and there's no turning back."

I completely agree.

Here's his article:

"Not so long ago, the American community used to gather in the electronic town hall provided by the three broadcast networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. For four decades, the evening news bulletins focused our national debates--Walter Cronkite's disaffection with the Vietnam War is a well-remembered turning point--but they do so no longer. First, there came CNN, in 1980. That was followed by other 24-hour cable-news channels. Now, we're well into the age of the Internet, where news and opinion surface almost every second. The American audience is fragmented as never before, a huge cultural story with implications for our cohesion as a society.

The most dramatic, and still evolving, change is characterized by the emergence of bloggers (web-loggers). It was little noticed back in 1999 during the Kosovo war, when a website organized by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting attracted comments from ordinary citizens. One began: "Armed men wearing black masks and blue police helmets just came and said, 'You have to leave!' " That was a firsthand account of ethnic cleansing in Pristina, perhaps the most striking example of a new freedom to leapfrog the censors. Since then, blogs have proliferated from 50 in 1999 to close to something like 10 million today in just the United States, with as many as 100,000 new ones being launched every day.

The most well known are the power blogs, influential sites that attract the lion's share of page views and hits. A second group of social-network blogs focuses on certain topics or specific regions. After that, there's a virtual galaxy of obscure blogs that may get a few hits a day but occasionally light up the blogosphere when they're picked up and amplified by the mainstream press.

A "fifth estate." Given the fact that the disseminators of blogs, such as Google, have a unique protection from legal liability for what is posted, the blogs often resort to blood sport in their commentaries on politics and life, with many repeating and reporting without fact checking. (Alas, the idea that Jews plotted the 9/11 attacks began as a blog and took hold in the Muslim world as fact; in fact, it was a lie put out by Hezbollah.)

This new age of journalism is challenging the "trustee model" of journalism, where journalistic professionals served as gatekeepers, filtering the defamatory and the false. Today, a large segment of the public believes the new media are flavoring their reporting so as to tell us not so much how the world works but how the media believe it ought to work. No wonder only 44 percent of the public now say they are very, or fairly, confident of the media's accuracy.

The blogs, while fragmenting our mass audience and carrying many more inaccuracies than mainstream media, have nonetheless democratized journalism by giving citizens daily and immediate access to different opinions and, sometimes, to purveyors of truly expert knowledge.

Take the issue of whether oil drilling should take place in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Websites now provide the relevant documents and statements from governmental, corporate, and environmental bodies, along with information about costs, benefits, and risks from other specialists. Alaskans share their experience with oil drilling on the North Slope and their hopes and concerns for the state's economy and environment. The result is a public better able to make trade-offs among desired objectives and to assess a wider range of policy options.

Bloggers are emerging in a major way in other areas, such as reporting on Iraq. There is the so-called Baghdad Blogger, Salam Pax, whose online diary about life in Iraq in wartime attracts a huge readership. There is the expert commentary from Prof. Juan Cole, who provides scholarly insight into Shiite Arabs and the reaction of Sunni Arabs to the presence of U.S. troops there: He describes it as a "key recruiting tool for the resistance." There is the art historian David Nishimura, whose knowledge of antiquities enabled him to debunk the reported looting of 170,000 priceless antiques and treasures from the Iraqi National Museum: He pointed out that the actual losses, though serious, were dramatically smaller, that museum officials may have participated in the looting, and that the fierce criticism of the U.S. military was not merited.

In national politics, bloggers forced to the attention of the mainstream media an unfortunate comment then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made at Strom Thurmond's 100th-birthday party, converting his gaffe into a full-blown scandal. Bloggers forced Dan Rather to acknowledge that the documents used in the story about President Bush's National Guard service could not be authenticated. The list goes on.

The opinion blogs have, in effect, become a "fifth estate," a barometer of attitudes not just in the United States but in the world. Now, we must learn how to make the most of a flow of fact and opinion unimaginable just a decade ago."


Youth Extreme said...

In these incredible busy times communications such as blogs make it easier to grab facts and opinions quickly and effectivly. Change is always met with resistance, Jesus is the prime example of bringing a new style to a very old and set routine. His personal relationship style that included all of society caused him to be scorned, criticised, ignored and eventually put to death because he challenged old beliefs and routines. Praise God it was all in the plans for this to happen. Bloggs give us a way to communicate across great expanses of society and cultures to share differences in a peaceful and non threatening way. It opens the doors to duscussions that might never happen otherwise and it makes us as a whole better people and a stronger society.

In this day and age of greed, where we see corporate america more concerned about the bottom line then the people who where responsible for creating this great country blogs are a great way to expose the greed and coruption with the fear of retribution or firing. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and post your thoughts and findings and see how the world will respond....

Teresa O. said...

I often feel like "why am I responding?" Does anyone really care what I think? I doubt that they do and yet the Blogs are a form of learning for me which is at my fingertips. This article was good for me and the learning I receive from others on the Blogs are truly my main motivation. I highly doubt my comments will affect anyone, they won’t change policy or decision-makers, however, it goes back to one voice at a time, and I'm willing to let my voice be heard for whatever it is worth. Is anything really “silent” these days? In some way I feel it’s a risk that I just assume take so my voice is being heard and not misinterpreted. It’s time the Christian be heard. Quit waiting for “others” to act for us. We need to be heard and we need to stand up for what we believe. Blogs are a great way of being heard as a whole. What is your passion, your commitments? Perhaps it’s time more people “invest” in their thoughts and get Blogging.

Jon said...

Yeah for blogging! I like blogs and try to get to as many as I can throughout the day, along with all of the other stuff. I admit, they fall pretty near the bottom of my priority list but there's still a minute or two to eke something of worth out of them (or into them). And the various levels of blogs is truly awesome...from the power blogs mentioned to the personal blogs of ordinary people just trying to be heard.

I like this blog and try to get to it every day...I'm mostly successful but only because I place a high importance on it. Why do I like it? Well, for one, it lets me have an idea of where my pastor's head is at for a small period of his lets me in when I can't get to him to talk! It's always relevent to my world...there have been many times when the words have hit right on target for what I was going through or a need I had. Thirdly, it's about the most important thing in the world, our relationship with Jesus Christ and our place/role in this old world!

So, I say, speak up. I too have felt alone out in blog land...and I'd like to see a bunch more people join in our discussions, whether they agree or not. Discussion is good! Dialogue is good! Debate is all right but needs that formal atmosphere...let's leave it at dialogue and discussion!!

Love God, Love People!