There was a time when most bloggers were just guys who lived in their parents’ basements harping about the latest conspiracy theories. Not surprisingly, they were often not taken seriously. However, times have changed. With the dominance of new media forms and the exponential increase in online communication over the last decade, bloggers have become quite powerful. Countless scandals have been exposed and politicians removed from office because of the work of online opinion writers. Perhaps someone should tell that to Juan Williams. Earlier this week, during a debate with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin on Fox News, Williams remarked that his opponent was “just a blogger.” Williams, in his own opinion, is a “real reporter,” and should therefore be taken more seriously. I’ll try to get past the condescension in Juan William’s statement in order to make sense of his point. Ok I tried, I can’t do it. To discount bloggers and put them in the proverbial corner is both disrespectful and naïve.
Maybe Juan Williams just has a bad case of sour grapes. His livelihood is threatened by bloggers every day. As “real reporters” face a shrinking job market, bloggers are popping up all around cyberspace. They’ve filled the journalistic void caused by the lack of fair reporting in the media today. Hundreds of thousands of bloggers, old and young, male and female, have taken to doing the job that mainstream journalists and reporters often neglect: searching for the facts and revealing the truth. Many are not even paid for it. Such bloggers write because they want to, not because they’re being paid by a large news outlet. When bloggers do the job that journalists like Williams fail to do, they hold these “real reporters” accountable.
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