Pardon the self-promotion. I’ll be moderating and briefly speaking at an panel discussion at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute this (Monday) noon, titled “Voting with a Mouse: How Bloggers Altered the Political Landscape.” It’s free and open to the public and starts at noon. It’s supposed to be done by 1:30.
The keynoter is David Carr of the New York Times (and, for those didn’t know him back then, formerly of the Twin Cities Reader). Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb of Minnesota Democrats Exposed and Democratic blogger Joe Bodell of MN Campaign Report are the other panelists.
Other than moderatorly telling the others when their time is up, hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I plan to say in my five minutes:
The blogosphere is wonderful. Breaking the monopoly of professional journalists on the eyeballs of the news-consuming public does much more good than harm. And for me personally, blogging has provided a welcome liberation from some of the constraints of writing for the paper that had been driving me increasingly cranky over the last 10 or more years of my ink-stained wretchedness.
But I am increasingly concerned about the lack of fairness, open-mindedness and intellectual honesty in most of the blogosphere.
Minnesota Democrats Exposed and MN Campaign Report bring information into public view that might otherwise not get there. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good.
Michael and Joe are both open about their opposing biases, which gives them an advantage over a so-called objective newspaper reporter who is sometimes so worried about being accused of bias that he says nothing and fills up his allotted space with offsetting half-truths of the he-said she-said variety.
But IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m worried about readers who rely too heavily on sources that make little effort to see past their bias.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m worried about a form of bias thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s much bigger and more dangerous than either left or right bias. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s confirmation bias, which is a bias in favor of facts and arguments that confirm what you already believe.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s generally coupled with an unwillingness to credit or even acknowledge the existence of facts that contradict what you want to continue believing.
So as we move forward into the post-newspaper age, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m looking for something that combines the advantages of the blogosphere with the advantages of the journalistic method, specifically those norms of journalism that encourage reporters to see and think and write in ways that get past the bias of the writer.
And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m looking for readers who are looking for that same thing. And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m wanting to believe there are enough of them out there to make a difference and maybe even break the grip of the polarization that is such an impediment to our current political discourse.