This article by Matt Welch in the Columbia Journalism Review is worth reading. It is about Weblogs and how they are beginning to “deliver on some of the wild promises about the Internet that were heard in the 1990s.” However, it is most notable for the first part, where it slams the so-called “alternative press” for being more conformist that the mainstream press.
No kidding. Visit any medium-size or larger city in North America and pick up their alternative weeklies (aka, “cultural tabloids.”) They all have the same pop band write ups, the same anti-Hollywood/pro-indy movie reviews, the same sex columns, the same anti-globalization rants, the same prostitution ads in the back, and the same editorial cartoons.
In Montreal, on any given week, Hour, the Mirror, and Voir all have the same band or pop icon on the front page. Hour and Voir are both owned by Communications Voir, Inc., Canada’s largest alternative media corporation (who are involved in mergers and acquisitions, just like the big guns), and the Mirror — itself incorporated under dubious and possibly illegal circumstances which have not yet been settled in court — is now owned by Quebecor, a huge media convergence corporation.
Not that I’m against their pop culture, anti-globalist, so-called alternative points of view. I’m just bored by the sameness and predictability of it all. It would be really nice to have a truly independent newspaper in this town (and in every town) that was free of dogma, a paper that achieved its editorial balance (itself a nebulous concept) by mixing up its editorial point-of-view. Something that challenges both the left and the right — and the middle!
As for blogs, Welch argues that their proliferation offers four things: “personality, eyewitness testimony, editorial filtering, and uncounted gigabytes of new knowledge”.
Now if only there was a robust and reliable way to index them.