Will internet blog sites ultimately be our governments undoing? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
In 1841, Thomas Carlyle wrote, “…there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”(1) The role of an independent press is to inform the public of the actions of its government, without bias, and to act as a conduit to that government, expressing the opinions of the voters.
The voters’ ultimate expression of opinion lies at the ballot box. But without the press, the public only has access to pronouncements from the government, rarely slanted to sway public opinion away from their favor.
There is no doubt that, human nature being what it is, traditional news media can be prone to giving unequal weight to conflicting opinions. However, the size of these news organizations does at least present the opportunity for contraindicative argument and debate.
Blogs on the other hand are not the “Fourth Estate”; they are, in fact, quite the opposite of traditional news media. Generally, they represent the opinions of a single author without the baffle of nonpartisan critique. The blogger may wish, for example, to narrowcast a premise meant for a niche audience predisposed to accept the author’s point of view. Lacking an editorial review, this can result in the inclusion of rumor and innuendo where fact might interfere with the truth. The resulting calumny only furthers the public’s mistrust of traditional news media.
What we don’t know can hurt us as much if not more than what we do know. The role of the press is to assure the public that due dilligence has been done to present as many of the facts and as clear a picture as possible of the events surrounding our government.
Blogs provide opinion, but it is the presentation of facts that will determine the government’s efficacy.
(1) On Heroes, Hero-worship, and the Heroic in History by Thomas Carlyle, 1841, reprinted University of Nebraska Press, 1966.