Thinking about this since yesterday and finally provoked into writing about it by this piece by Maritime Liberal, who complains about the failure of the modern media. ML writes:
The media in our country is slowly drifting towards that of the US and in neither case, it does not bode well for the future of public discourse. Newspapers, television networks, etc. are in the business of selling news, not telling the news. As a result, we see the rise of sensationalism, mass popular culture, and a decline of the sophistication of discourse. In other words, in order to sell the news, the media has resorted to dumbing down the news and sensationalizing it in order to increase its viewership/readership.
And there's no doubt that the modern mainstream media sucks. We can make fun of the National Post, while ignoring the fact that the Globe and Mail is not a whole lot better. Americans can slag the Moonie-run Washington Times while refusing to admit that the Washington Post and the New York Times are now, for the most part, crap (notable exceptions being folks like Frank Rich and Paul Krugman, who deserve so much better than to share the op-ed page with fuckwads like David Brooks). So where does one get one's news?
For most of us, the obvious answer is, "blogs." It's no surprise that most of us have given up on the mainstream media as little more than propaganda and have started relying heavily on blogs to figure out what's going on. But who's to say if blog content is any better? How does one know that what they're reading on someone's blog isn't similarly wretched nonsense?
To which PBer Simon Pole made a suggestion back here:
Should the blogosphere elect an ombudsman a la the Washington Post? Or perhaps a speaker?
Should we have a board of the blogosphere? Then we can start making jokes about bored of the blogosophere. HA HA HA...
And why not? But with a slight twist.
There's no way anyone's going to agree on a universal, ideology-independent ombudsman to cover, say, all of Canada's political blogging. So fine. Don't worry about the other folks, let's just talk about what PB.ca can do to establish itself as a source of reliable news.
PB.ca should get its own ombudsman to which readers can complain if they feel any PBer has been dishonest or misleading. This person should not, of course, be a member of PB.ca, but someone who has no rabid leanings either way and is willing to arbitrate complaints. Readers could submit complaints -- in public -- and those complaints could be resolved -- again, in public -- so everyone sees what's going on and there's full transparency.
To keep things manageable, complaints would have to involve accusations of actual dishonesty or bias, and not something as whiny as, "He called me an ignorant fucktard, and I want an apology," to which the appropriate response would be, naturally, "Grow up and piss off, Pete."
Judgment against a PBer would require some appropriate form of retraction or apology, at which point, that would be the end of it. Ongoing violations would result in the offender being turfed out of PB.ca.
Yes, yes, it sounds like overkill but, if you think about it, it's a solid gesture to convince readers that someone is looking out for their best interests and is willing to entertain complaints and do something about it. I don't know offhand if there are any other loosely-affiliated collections of bloggers who are doing this, so who's to say PB.ca can't be the first?
If we want to be taken seriously, might as well walk the walk. Thoughts?