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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blournalists Unite!

"There is a war going on for your mind."
These words are my favorite my third favorite college graffiti I have encountered in Athens. My first is a bright red spray painting of "Who watches the Watchmen?" by Bentley Hall and the 5,000 "Vs" that showed up on the 5th of November. Apparently, a lot of Ohio Bobcats are Alan Moore fans (and who isn't, really). But "there is a war going on for your mind" might represent the most intriguing wall-art. 

Is there really a war going on for my mind? Who is fighting for it? And why is it written outside a structure in which I defecate? 

Well, after giving it much thought I have concluded that there is no war going on for your mind, but there IS a war going on for your attention. There exists a war in which progress can only be measured in attention. It is a constant struggle to win the proletariat's attention.  It is a war being fought between "traditional journalists" and "bloggers".

In the beginning there was nothing. Then there were Journalists. Journalists walked the Earth and documented its many splendors and shortcomings. They conducted interviews, corroborated information and checked their facts. They provided a function crucial to a developing society: information, and accurate information at that.

It was during these early days of yore that Journalists only had one enemy to contend with: themselves. There was a faction that worked against the whole. Their information was inaccurate and their reporting, lazy. Journalists developed a bad reputation amongst the public and began to lose their attention, thus losing the war against themselves. Then, in their darkest hour, they thought would save them. William Randolph Hearst was a monstrous personality who created a monster. His brand of journalism known as "yellow journalism" was sensationalistic, lazy and irresponsible. So, needless to say, his papers sold millions. Journalists were spared defeat by this charismatic New Yorker but were set back by his controversial tactics. They had won the battle but were in danger of losing the war.

Two pen and paper toting heroes from Washington brought the Journalists back from the brink in the 1970s and they spent the next 30 years licking their wounds and re-building their fortresses in preparation for another, stronger foe.

The Bloggers emerged from out of nowhere in the 2000s like an unholy horde. They were the result of technology that democratized the business of attention seeking. They grew in number exponentially until there were more voices from the Bloggers than there were from the Journalists. Luckily for the Journalists, the  Bloggers may have been greater in number but they were smaller in stature. The majority of the Bloggers did not offer the same services the Journalists could. They didn't offer the most current information and news, instead they tended to comment on the existing news or offer a different perspective on stories than the old, "mainstream" media.

The Journalists and the Bloggers continued to fight this war for attention now fought on the bandwidth of the World Wide Web. The Journalists charged that the Bloggers were inferior because they did not follow the rules and regulations or hold themselves to the same standards that they, the Journalists, did. The Bloggers fired back that the crusty old Journalists were out of touch with the rest of the world and were just slaves to multi-billion dollar corporations. The situation looked hopeless and then one man stepped up to end the conflict once and for all.

Josh Wolf was the perfect definition of a Blogger. He used that Internet device that was so mystifying to the old media to upload videos of the daily operations of his San Francisco neighborhood. One day, however, he decided to film a protest in San Francisco of the G8 summit. Wolf's camera caught footage of a police officer getting excessively violent with a protestor. True to his Blogger-DNA, Wolf uploaded the video onto the Internet but also sent clips to a local television station. Then the enemy which the two sides could unite against came calling for Josh Wolf: the federal government.

Uncle Sam demanded that Wolf turn over the video footage to the federal government to see if arson charges could be brought against some overzealous protesters who fired a bottle-rocket at a police car. Wolf refused. He said (rightly) that giving into the federal government's demands would set a dangerous precedent for future Journalists trying to cover an event. The fed took Wolf to court and successfully argued that Wolf wasn't a real Journalist and thus had no rights of protection afforded to him that other Journalists receive.

Surely, the Journalists accepted this win against the Blogging enemy and let Wolf serve his time in jail for his treachery. Not quite the case. Hundreds of Journalists came to Wolf's defense and The Society of Professional Journalists even named Wolf their 2006 Journalist of the Year. The Journalists and Bloggers had finally come to realize that the line between Journalism and Blogging is so thin that it may not even exist. The only thing that matters in the practice of news reporting and information gathering is a passion for the material and a dedication to the truth. Josh Wolf's 226 day stay in jail (the longest U.S imprisonment for a reporter being held in contempt of court) proved that Bloggers can be Journalists and Journalists could be bloggers as long as they were dedicated to the principles of their craft and maintained a reverence for the Truth.

Josh Wolf proved that all of us can be a Blournalist (Joggers was already taken).

So go forth now, my fellow Blournalists and make the world a better, less confusing place. Josh Wolf has won you your freedom and earned you your respect.

Thanks be to the man who ended The Great War...for attention.


Cassie The Venomous said...

Sorry, I didn't read your whole post, but I got too excited not to tell you that I have pictures of the "Who Watches the Watchmen?" graffiti. :]

I'll finish reading the rest of this later!

Cassie The Venomous said...

Finished reading and am going forth... TO CONQUER...? Ha-ha!