The Houston Chronicle reprinted it under a different title on January 1. I read it and sent the editor a letter. It appeared this past Friday, January 6, with minor edits. I made several arguments:
In Kathleen Parker's column about blogs, she says we can't silence the ‘Spoiled and undisciplined’ blogs, though we should ignore them not only for the sake of civilization, but for "the integrity of information by which we all live or die."
This is po-faced hooey. Readers of newspapers (her chosen profession) are canceling their subscriptions in significant numbers, not least because many papers have been found guilty of adjusting facts and presenting partisan opinions. Unlike the news/opinions publications of the past 150 years, though, the Internet greatly empowers access to, and creation of, alternative viewpoints – even when sometimes expressed unwisely.
Does her wish to silence the spoiled and undisciplined extend to the celebrity magazines, too? The supermarket tabloids?
As I tried to come to grips with Parker's column, my wife made the most telling point: Unlike the vast majority of bloggers, she gets paid for her opinions. Unlike her ‘new enemies,’ Freedom of the Press appears to apply only to those who earn a salary at it.
I appreciated seeing my letter in print. (PT Barnum said, “I don’t care what they print about me as long as they spell my name correctly.”)
What I genuinely object to, however, is Parker’s apparent presumption that only paid journalists “who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right” are qualified to dispense news and opinions. They can communicate with us – we aren’t qualified to communicate with them.
Yes – this is about communication and (by extension) public relations and advertising. I think the Worldwide Web and the Internet enable more access to information than at any time in human history. Blogs are one new form that lets us communicate more broadly, influence opinions…even promote products and services.
So, does Parker contend that journalism is automatically more worthy? What happens when, say, PR-type communications are used to transmit editorial-style messages? Are the newspaper writers who pick up news releases journalists or flacks? So read her column. Read my letter. Let us both know if I am over-reacting. (E-mail Ms. Parker at email@example.com.)