Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Driving Each Other Crazy Edition

kmr has a good post up on BlueNC this afternoon, reflecting on the fact that the famous Jim Black scandal was NOT the product of fine investigative journalism by the mainstream media. Since kmr has himself worked as a mainstream journalist, we take his words pretty seriously, especially when he talks about "access" and pulling one's punches:
"Maybe they [Capitol city journalists] were clueless or didn't think it important or were worried about losing access.

Give me a bunch of ... bloggers with nothing to gain or lose over folks in the know sitting on their hands for fear of alienating a source. I'm afraid that, as in many places in this great land, those charged with occasionally mucking out the barn are either too concerned about soiling their trousers or have somehow become mesmerized into believing they too are a fine steed in the stable."
Considering the heat that we have taken, and continue to take, for research we and other bloggers on this site have done into the behavior of a certain major university and the formation of a PAC aimed at shifting power in local government, we have a somewhat heightened appreciation for what kmr is saying.

We get it: people don't like their words and actions talked about. And those who write comments on this and most other blogs are frequently intemperate, hateful, misinformed, prejudiced, ignorant of the facts, possibly victimized by alien abduction, and quick to stampede over the nearest precipice of easy assumption.

Two fateful decisions were made when WataugaWatch launched in 2003: (1) there would be no anonymity for primary posters, none of that hiding out behind screen names, and (2) comments would be open and unmoderated. Whereas all main posts are signed, any comment can be anonymous if the writer wants it that way. In other words, while the primary author here is totally responsible for what he writes, including snark and ill-considered opinion, everyone else is free to pile on, scream, shout non-sequiturs or be breathtakingly perceptive, smart, insightful and funny -- and be wholly protected (at least as far as the law allows).

As ring master, we know it's a dangerous way to live, because people are people, which is to say, those who write comments on blogs can be irresponsible, if they think they can get away with it. (It will do no good, perhaps, to point out that no one has taken more abuse in this space than the author and those closest to him.) But with an open platform also comes the throb of vital democracy, and if there is sometimes more heat than light, well, no one ever said an open, free society would be anything less than messy.

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