Thursday, January 1, 2009

So what is Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison's problem with blogs, anyway? Are they really any worse than print media?

(Note: This report draws upon information contained in an article reprinted in the 12/26 edition of the Mountain Views "Observer." We're throwing all caution to the wind and going with it, but with the understanding that this source might not be completely accurate.) 

In Pasadena a new law was unanimously passed by the City Council recently requiring all political financing and candidate contribution disclosure statements be put on-line so that any concerned citizen can access this info. Which is fair enough. It is a common practice, and you can only wonder why the Rose City was so far behind the curve.

But then the article veers in an odd direction (MVO typos corrected where possible):

Councilmember Steve Madison, who proposed the idea, said he was surprised the idea had not already been done. "It was something in this computer age, one would expect, could be easily done," he said. Later adding, "I think all of us probably fel(t) as though transparency is a good thing, it should be." (H)e went on to say that people needed good information especially in an age where they have to deal with blogging. Something he said was notorious for giving out bad information."

Now I'd hardly disagree with the notion that blogs are often partisan operations given to filtering reporting through the political agendas of their publishers. It is pretty much the nature of the beast. But is this something solely endemic to on-line news sources such as blogs? Is Madison actually suggesting that the various print media here in the San Gabriel Valley is completely free of its own political agendas and axes to grind? And that these forms of ideological bias never influence their political reporting? Given the atrocious partisanship shown by the print media in Sierra Madre during our most recent city elections, I'd say the Pasadena council member could very well be putting the Mad in Madison here.

And let's read between the lines a bit. If blogs are such untrustworthy partisan animals, and by implication therefore appendages of existing political campaigns, is Madison also suggesting that perhaps they should somehow be forced to register their finances with the government as candidate campaign contributions?

Chilling ...

13 comments:

  1. When a councilcritter complains about blogs, you
    know you're talking about a guy who would rather
    not have city business discussed in public. Blogs
    might not be perfect in any way, but they drive the
    right people nuts.

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  2. Blogs are the perfect forum to list political contributions. "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." You will find out what the person stands for.

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  3. Ohhhhhhhhhh- this blog is good. I'll have to link you into my next sgv blogherding post. keep up the debate.

    I've already had my battle with a narrow minded pio who a) didn't believe a blogger was media and b) didn't like that I was contrary to the official city propaganda machine.

    In the end I won. Other cities invited me in to see what is going on, including Pasadena.

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  4. Bloggers have an important place, it's the public stigma that needs to drop (depending on which site it is, of course). If a site sets up concept to be discussed with the right framework, it's a win win for all. I like the less formal conversational structure. It makes it more real for me and less intimidating for those who don't always have the confidence to share what they think. If it makes some people uncomfortable, so be it. The process of listening to other peoples views helps me formulate how I truly feel about an concept. It's a class you don't get formal credit for, but it's with it. It gives me something to ponder about when I have a couple minutes of blessed silence.

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  5. Frazgo - Thanks for both the kind words and for checking out The Tattler. Yeah, anything you can do to help spread the word to the SGV blog world would be great and much appreciated. I think the reason certain local pols have such a problem with blogs is because they can't be as easily controlled or fit into any traditional political strategy. The legitimacy question is just a weak dodge. As if there is some sort of staid formal process for discussing politics and governance. Ironically blogs are now playing a role that was traditionally filled by the far more robust and contentious print media of the past. Something in no way represented by the sad remnant that is today's compliant local press.

    Anonymous - The more they squawk, the better the job we're doing. If we weren't folks like Madison wouldn't be bitching to the likes of the MVO. Blogs exist because those who should be doing the job of communicating the news are no longer willing or financially capable of doing so. People have a need to know what is going on, and if the traditional press won't do the job, we'll just have to step in and do it for them. Thanks for checking in, and if there is anything you'd like to see covered let me know. Or if there's something you want to write, even better. I'd love to open this place up a bit.

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  6. Welcome aboard Frazgo!
    Always enjoy reading your comments!

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  7. Mr.Madison isn't entirely wrong. Blogs can be untrustworthy partisan animals, and by implication appendages of existing political campaigns. They can also be a way to counter and correct information.

    It's all in the way you look at it or read it. I can't see how more writing and picture posting venues can ever really be a bad thing unless there is an invasion of privacy.

    Cheers Mr. Maudry, on your bleg (I still don't understand what a "dirt" is--aw well part of the SM charm)

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  8. Miss Havisham - Nice to see your name pop up here. I have always found your formality to be refreshing. And after what I read from Frazgo I was worried. Don't know why.

    Point I wanted to make is that blogs are no less trustworthy than newspapers. Or 'Fox News 11' for that matter. And to break it down as 'established print media = truth, and upstart blogs= lies' is, well, just as politically partisan and deceptive as anything Mr. Madison has griped about.

    I have always felt that one needs to nurture their skepticism. Especially when discussing the pronouncements of politicians.

    "Dirts" is a term used here to describe the handful of folks who favor and abet redevelopment ( the razing of traditional neighborhoods to build block shaped condo complexes and other architectural atrocities for their personal aggrandizement), and those hapless knuckleheads taken in by them. Sierra Madre is one of the few towns anywhere to not only stand up to these people, but actually defeat them at the ballot box. We're justifiably proud.

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  9. Blogs are IMHO one of the salvations of democracy. The mainstream news organs are completely cominated by large corporations who have everything to gain by controlling the news. A blog on the other hand owes nothing to anybody other than through the individual blogger. This is why some blogs are better than others and why the politicians don't like them--they are not reverent enough about the Seats of Power. Thank heaven. Thanks, Eric Maundry, for starting up again.

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  10. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Deborah

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. Steve Madison was a big target of Aaron Proctor who sadistically berated Madison all the time on his blog.

    I can see why Madison would be suspicious of blogs!

    There are good blogs, and there are baaadddddd blogs.

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  13. Which is more biased, the average blog or the average political campaign?

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