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Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog


A Blog About Blogs

January 22, 2010 2:06 PM

There was a thoughtful and thought-provoking cover story in Isthmus this week about the state of journalism and how people get their information these days. You can read it here: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=27981.

According to the article by Jay Rath, things in traditional print journalism have gotten so bad that the Washington Times no longer even has a sports section. But Washington also has the Nationals and the Redskins, so that's probably just as well. The real problem is that newsrooms are thinning out and with them the papers themselves, leaving a news void that gets filled with a mix of information and opinion, often found in blogs like this one, which can be hard for readers to sort out. Rath points out that professional journalism is a relatively recent phenomenon (if you count the last century or so as recent). And it's true I suppose that democracy functioned ok without it. We found a way to elect Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln without a tradition of objective journalism at the time. And we found a way to elect Richard Nixon with it. Twice. But on the other hand, it was professional journalists that brought Nixon down by revealing his many transgressions. They weren't partisans out to get him. They were just doing their jobs.

It would be best if the blogosphere was just another layer of information on top of a strong foundation of professionally reported and edited journalism delivered in print or on the web. To the extent that blogs become a primary news source, it might not mean the end of democracy, but it sure isn't a good thing. Complete objectivity might be impossible, but those who strive for it play a valuable role in democracy.



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