Bad week for blogs

On WJOX this afternoon, Ian Fitzsimmons of the Roundtable warned listeners about the Internet; he cautioned that you can’t believe everything you read on blogs.

Talk radio warning people not to believe what you read on the Internet? That’s about like a whore worrying she might catch something by eating lunch at Denny’s. Talk radio is just as bad, if not worse, at spreading falsehoods.

However, hypocritical to have talk radio scolding about blogs, it is a good message. In the words of Ronald Reagan, trust but verify. Trust that most people are writing what they believe to be true, but verify the content. This is particularly true after the last week.

In the last week we’ve seen Nick Taylor self-destruct over the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball coaching search, and now the Deepsouthsports smear on Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

Will blogs and Internet sites ever achieve respectability when these disasters loom over us?

The answer is yes. But it’ll take time.

What we see today on the Internet is a replica (although more chaotic) of the early 20th Century newspaper business. In the early days of the last century (for that matter even still today), anyone who could run a printing press could publish his own newspaper. Newspapers existed to push news and news commentary for political parties, unions, and any wealthy crackpot who could afford the price of newsprint and ink.

It sounds like the Internet, where any crackpot with free time can blog.

For the most part, the Internet does a very good job sorting out the good from the bad. Internet readers are savvy. Persons who read a blog on Alabama football are more passionate than a casual fan, and thus more likely to catch when errors are made (and everyone makes errors.) The problem comes when people not familiar with a topic stumble upon a site spreading illegitimate rumors.

There is not much that can be done to hold these blogs accountable. Unfortunately, the Roundtable was right in another assertion—that it would take a landmark lawsuit to reform how bloggers work. Right now there isn’t a sheriff in the Wild West mentality of the Internet.

It is up to bloggers to continue policing each other, and expose when outright untruths are passed off as fact. In time, blogs can gain respect. It is going to take time. Just like the maturation of the American newspaper during the 20th Century, which reached its peak during the 1950’s and 1960’s before declining during the 70’s through today.
[poll id=”24″]