Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Navel Gazing, Day 2
Today Barbara Ehrenreich has her third article in a fortnight in the New York Times (filling in for Friedman?), provoking me to wonder if they're giving her a tryout. If you asked me to identify the person I most admire in the media (lucky for you I'll pose it rhetorically), it wouldn't be close: Barbara Ehrenreich. We live in weird times. The media manages to be outrageously partisan and shiftless and incurious. Thanks to the internet, "content" is essentially free. The means of production and consumption cost nothing--it's the advertising that's expensive. Ironically, this means we despise the news, even though it's possible to pick up a copy of the Times (LA and NY) for free. Americans, to complete the painful ironies, are the most educated in history, and have access to the most news in history, and yet they are the worst-informed population the country has had in at least a century.
So Barbara Ehrenreich, the anti-pundit. She's a partisan, but she's also something we've forgotten about--an investigative journalist who follows stories of her own interest, not the interest of the slack-jawed public (Britney!) or a media empire (Laci!). She's a journalist who spent a year in wage-slave jobs just because she wanted to see what it was like to try to live on minimum wage and then tell the story. (And if you haven't read Nickel and Dimed, the resulting work, you have cheated yourself.) She could have written a polemic, but she didn't. She told it straight: what happens month by month and day by day, when you're trying to pay rent by working at Wal-Mart. Who does that kind of stuff?
I don't kid myself about the value of my own blog. But I'm of the opinion (haute, now, thank God) that the blogosphere is serving a critical role in our national discussion about politics. When Air America debuted, the hosts tapped the blogosphere exactly because this is where the light of liberalism burned the past three years (of course, they also got their own blogs). When I listen to a pundit on NPR, more often than not, he'll drop an argument into conversation that I just read at Josh's site (or Atrios's or Kevin Drum's or...). Maybe together we do the lifting of Barbara Ehrenreich alone (but we have comments!).
Speaking of which, I was surprised to get 19 comments about my little outburst yesterday. Most of you just said keep writing, and I didn't expect that--it was quite heartening. The blogosphere feels complete as is; with a handy 10-pack of your faves, you can pretty much be assured of touching all the bases. So often I'll write something and then find the same sentiment somewhere else. The blogosphere breeds redundancy, and I suspect every blogger feels like a fifth wheel from time to time.
I think I'll still look to shake things up at this blog--possibly even moving it off blogspot and giving it a snappy new name. I'm going to try to figure out how to give it a little more intention, as well. Maybe that will help shake off the redundancy. I may even take some time off, as you all suggest. Not a bad idea, probably.