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Defender Of The "Wide-Eyed Pamphleteers"
That would be the First Amendment, a document apparently unknown to the LA Times' David Shaw. Shaw, writes Jack Shafer, typed out "1300 gassy words" informing bloggers that they don't deserved the "same constitutional protections as traditional print and broadcast journalists."

In yesterday's (March 27) Los Angeles Times, media reporter and critic David Shaw demonstrates Oscar Wilde's maxim that modern journalism is important—if only because it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

Giving every indication that he's read a lot of stories about bloggers but not that many actual blogs, Shaw disparages the form as the error-filled rants of amateurs in his piece, "Do Bloggers Deserve Basic Journalistic Protections?" It's a "solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre," Shaw writes.

...Shaw puts great stock in the fact that mainstream journalism, unlike blog entries, goes "through several filters before a reader sees it." He boasts of how his columns benefit from the vetting of at "least four experienced Times editors," who check it for "accuracy, fairness, grammar, taste and libel."

Four editors, none of whom seem schooled in the First Amendment. Lovely!

Shaw seems to believe that the First Amendment and its subsidiary protections belong to the credentialed employees of the established corporate press and not to the great unwashed. I suggest that he—or one of the four experienced editors who touched his copy—research the history of the First Amendment. They'll learn that the Founders wrote it precisely to protect Tom, Dick, and Matt and the wide-eyed pamphleteers and the partisan press of the time. The professional press, which Shaw believes so essential in protecting society, didn't even exist until the late 19th century.

If blogs err, Shaw has my permission to shame them. If they libel him, he has my blessing to sue. I suspect that the more he treats blogs like the press the more he will come to realize that they are the press, and that the petty attempt he's made with his column to commandeer the First Amendment for the corporate media will only wreak the damage to society and the press that he so fears.


If I were in the business of licensing journalists, which I'm not, I'd give Shaw a two-week suspension without pay and force him to blog his way back into his readers' good graces. Send your alternative sentence for Shaw to (Jack Shafer) -- (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Posted by aalkon at March 30, 2005 6:04 AM

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Hi –

In my humble view, there's more than meets the eye to all this than "blog and the first amendment" issues.

Who loses from the development of internet ? General interest newspapers and magazines.Their readers flee to the internet where the news is not passed through the politically correct filters and reporters with hidden agendas. The fewer readers they have, the less papers and mags can charge for advertising. Hence the noise. QED.

Who loses from the development of shopping on internet ? Look at all the brouhaha about "credit card security for purchases on the internet" and "viruses". Who has the most to lose ? Traditional media outlets like TV and who depend on advertising from banks and credit card companies. Who depend on advertising from stores and shops. "Your credit card number won't be ripped off if you shop at xxx departement store, but you will if you purchase on the internet ! Beware, internauts !" Who screams the loudest about the dangers of "the internet" ?


Posted by: L'Amerloque at March 30, 2005 3:29 AM

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