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August 15, 2007


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Dee Hicks

Thanks for these links. Young people are my passion. I especially appreciate the teaching resources at the Clearinghouse site.


Excellent and timely. Media literacy may be un-American, though.

Bruce Trachtenberg

Actually, Albert, blogs make fine antidotes to prevent us from falling ill to the "propaganda, bias, and censorship in the media" you cite.


I think good bloggers can play that role. I'm sure there are many blog typologies already in existence, but here's a stab at another one:

I. Pseudoblogs

These are the blogs officially sponsored by specific organizations. The people who write or contribute to them are kept on very tight leashes. It's message discipline all the way down.

There are exceptions (e.g., Democracy in Action, I would assume).

These blogs will rarely help us overcome propaganda, bias, and censorship because propaganda, bias, and/or censorship--however well intentioned--are part of their M.O.

II. True blogs

We can slice these many ways, to serve many purposes. But here's one division that I think might be meaningful to a discussion of media literacy:

A. Inside the culture (intracultural), looking around

B. Outside the culture (meta- or paracultural), looking in

I enjoy reading many A-type bloggers; but I admire B-type bloggers most and aspire to become one of them. I think they have an important role to play in saving us from ourselves.

Bruce Trachtenberg

Good distinctions, Albert. Further to your point about being a diligent consumer of media (in all forms), an article in today's NY Times reveals "self-interest" edits being made by corporations to a number of Wikipedia entries to put a positive spin on their names, reputations and products, such as Pepisco "deleting several paragraphs of the Pepsi entry that focused on its detrimental health effects."

Albert Ruesga

Soon after discovering the joys of a library card, I remember asking a grown-up if everything printed in books was true. I suppose the danger of the Wikipedia (and every other publication) is that we can't easily overcome the presumption of authorial authority.

The WikiScanner allegedly uncovered an attempt by someone using an ACLU computer to slander Pope Benedict XVI by calling him a pedophile. Let the reader beware. The distortions and unsupported claims will come from both left and right.

The WikiScanner allegedly uncovered an attempt by someone using an ACLU computer to slander Pope Benedict XVI by calling him a pedophile

While discouraging, if the allegation is true, the greater concern is organized and institutionally endorsed misinformation. A flunky at Pepsico can be presumed to be acting on orders and the company itself inherently enjoys no benefit of the doubt. Its remit is limited by law to protecting shareholder value. Spin doctors employed by the company have a built in obligation to test the limits of laws regulating misrepresentation. Moral hazard is built into the charter.

By charter, the ACLU is obliged to force power to play by the rules. It is unlikely to push the limits regarding misrepresentation. Honest communication is its best friend and it enjoys support from across the political spectrum. People join and work for them because of their commitment to across the board fair play. That's "identified" as left wing, and reviled on that basis, because the political consensus strongly favors right wing authoritarian bootlicking. The ACLU would be just as unpopular in an authoritarian socialist system, where it might be called objectively pro-bourgeois.


My new neighbors in the apartment across the hall had a party late last night. I was working late and I could hear them through the plasterboard. They were playing rap music and talking about Iraq. "Nooooo, don't go there," somebody said. Then they talked about how white people in Germany were different - in a positive way - from white people in America, in how they acted with black people. Whatever, then after a bunch of noise I couldn't understand I heard someone else say if you have to go to Iraq then you should get one of those 12 inch knives they make at the local armory. I'm pretty the local armory doesn't do that anymore. They only have rock concerts there now because of the acoustics.

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