December 9, 2008

Rabid anti-gatekeeper at KOS

SusanG, a blogger for the DailyKos got all huffy when a batch of former presidential aides and reporters got together Dec. 1 to talk about President-elect Obama's media campaign.

They suggested that too much use of the Internet -- blogs, YoutTube and e-mails -- would make the president too familiar. They said he should avail himself of the traditional methods of communicating to the American people: press conferences, Oval Office addresses, etc.

SusanG got up on her high blogging horse to say these traditional ways of communicating would also mean the perpetuation of a "mandarin class" of commentators to tell the American people what they just heard and what it means.

Oddly enough, she equates the commentator and analysis role some journalists play with the role of gatekeeper. As we all know, when we talk about the gatekeeper role it is not to tell people what to think, but rather to glean the important aspects from a much larger picture.

The fact that more and more people constantly complain about information overload does not seem to deter people from thinking that some sort of gatekeeper is not needed so that information can be put in priority order.

And that is what a good journalist does. A reporter and editor work together (in an ideal world) to get the most important aspects of a story up front and show as many sides of an issue as necessary to ensure the reader/viewer/listener has the facts and the context.

Too often the blogs provide interesting bits of information. But putting that information into a context that is usable often requires the reader to scan through dozens of other writers.

So why not trust your friendly neighborhood journalist? He/she already gets paid to gather information and present it to the public in a manner that is readable and accessible. Why waste your valuable time digging out what has already been dug?

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