Testing blog mettle

Testing blog mettle

: Think of the next 11 weeks until the election as a challenge: as a test of weblogs’ real value:

When we wake up after the election, will we be able to point to the ways and posts in which this new medium contributed, or at least tried to contribute, to improving the coverage of the campaign and the policies of the candidates and the wisdom of the electorate? Will we have made a difference at all? Or will we have made it worse?

Did we push the coverage and the candidates in ways that mattered? Or did we wallow in mud?

Now is our opportunity to show what we can do. So what can we do?

I am blogs’ biggest booster, blathering on to any who unfortunate enough to listen about the power of citizens’ media.

But I also have to say that I’ve been a bit disheartened in recent days by the incessant gotchaism of some blogs and more commenters in our new medium.

OK, we’re human. And we’re independent. Bloggers have opinions and the means to share them. A blogger is under no obligation or expectation from anyone else to fix the world or do journalism’s job or cure its ills or, Lord knows, to repair politics. You want to say — and say again — that you think Bush/Kerry is a liar or stupid or a flip-flopper or frightening or incompetent, great: Have at it. Pluck the low-hanging fruit of democracy.

But we also say that blogs gives us all an opportunity to present a new viewpoint and to bring together information from disparate sources and to turn news and campaigns and even government into conversations and to improve them.

So are we?

I’m not talking just about the Swifies or the Mooreites, so don’t get mired in all that. And I’m certainly not trying to say that I’m any paragon of value or virtue myself, so spare us your sputting comments; I’m no expert in health care and that’s why I wish wiser bloggers than me would illuminate the subject. And as I say in another post today, I also don’t want to find this wallowing in another roundabout about character.

I hope that what we can contribute is better conversation and debate and information and questions about the issues that affect our lives and our world. I hope that we can contribute is a better gauge of what citizens are saying. I hope that what we can contribute is a push to improve campaigning and coverage of it.

So here’s my challenge: As you see examples — on the blogs you read or the blogs you write — of posts that in any way improve this campaign, save them. When it’s over, on the morning after, I’ll ask again. And then let’s assess our value.

We bloggers are all quick to judge mainstream media. Shouldn’t we turn the same spotlight on ourselves?