a blogger’s purpose

Over on Eschaton, Atrios has been talking about the function of a political, or news blogger. I guess I’m thinking of bloggers as a very general thing — eg anyone who posts to their livejournal regularly is a blogger regardless of content, but this is clearly about those who blog about politics and/or news. One interesting comment I thought he made was this:

One of the complaints journalists have with bloggers is that they don’t do “original reporting.”

And of course not. I don’t do this for a living. I’m very interested in news and politics, and keep up on them, and mostly record my thoughts here. Now, many times I simply call attention to interesting articles in the vague hope that what readers I may actually have will take a look at them, not already having read them. I think that’s useful in itself. But what I find most interesting, and what I try to do although of course I’m limited by time, is pull together different things and examine their potential implications. Such as the intersection of Miers’ nomination and Bush’s push for the military arm to be used as law enforcers. Of course, I’m not the only one who notices these things, but hey.

As for not injecting one’s personal take or opinion on things? That’s absurd. It’s much better to be upfront about how you think, and provide sources so that people who don’t agree with you can go look things up for themselves. If we were all more honest about this in journalism and in blogging (and honestly, bloggers seem to be pretty upfront about what they’re about and linking back to their sources; of course that could just be because I save those type of blogs and discard the rest from my bookmark list…) I think the news, journalism and press in general would benefit. Not to mention the few John Q. Public’s who are really interested in knowing what’s going on. In any case, the most interesting bloggers are the ones who give me their take on things. Maybe I agree with them, maybe I don’t (you’ll notice I’m trying to list both left and right bloggers) but in either case I want to think about what they’ve said. I can find the news itself, such as it is, anywhere.

That said, there are people who don’t like this. My own dear BF says that speculation is basically bullshit. He’s got kind of a point, people can start to take off on what are at core speculative interpretations of another’s motivations or actions. And some people do blur this line. This is why I’m pretty strong on labelling clearly what it is one is writing about. Even so, some people have a basic objection to that. But hey, it’d be a boring world if we all agreed on everything.

Here’s one more intersection I’ve been musing on: Bush’s recent fairly high profile position on the threat posed by the avian flu. Now, you know this is a president who ignores ample warnings, such as the terrorist threat posed to the WTC. You also know that the threat of avian flu has been around a while — if all the European countries have been preparing and stockpiling for a couple years, you’d have to be nuts to think Bush had not heard about this already. Notice: rampant speculation ahead…

So why is he putting out such crocodile tears and pronouncements of emergency measures he thinks will be needed? Did katrina beat him down? Is he trying to manipulate this to his own ends? Something else occurred to me yesterday as I was sanding down cabinets though. What I’m wondering is whether the update Bush received this time contains additional details that are actually enough to alarm him. I hope not. Given his past behavior, it scares me to think what might actually make him sit up and pay attention and start to actually worry…

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