Monday, November 30, 2009

Journalist Ga Ga

And here I am referring to the old-style Gaga, not the later, derivative, Ga Ga (89 million views? Really? What is Yerbolat doing wrong?).

Now that Obama has made a decision on the New American Way in Afghanistan, everyone gets to say something about it. It's probably not a coincidence that that everyone's favorite hot new blog, The Security Crank, came out just a couple weeks before news started leaking.

For as long as there's been a Central Asian blogosphere, blogs have been discrediting self-proclaimed experts. Things have really picked up recently, however, with Mssrs. Hamm, Bleuer, Musafirbek, and the decidedly-not-French Gunslinger all publishing pieces with varying strengths of dismay. I'm sure they're not the only ones, but I'm sure you get the point.

It's a mixed blessing, to be sure. It's always fun to put a burn into writing, and it isn't like these are excessive inanities like on Fire Joe Morgan...policy, trade, and (lest we forget) human lives are being balanced based on what's written in the New York Times. So we best be sure they write it right.

It's not too bold to say that us here in the stanosphere get upset that, for all of our studying we've done on the region, the policy makers would seemingly rather get some headliners. The Crank had a point:
Celebrity matters more than knowledge in thinktankistan.
But as traditional journalism continues to die, blogs become more powerful. Nowhere can this be seen better than over at neweurasia, where they continue to revolutionize newsmedia in Central Asia. If you take a glance over to the Cyber Chaikana, you can see that the writers over there are writing over the droll and dreck that grey journalism (newspapers, television, anything involving startup costs and government supervision) puts out. They're creating a new media outlet to overtake the old. And if you've ever read a newspaper or watched the news in Central Asia, you know they're doing a darn good job.

Stateside, things get a bit more interesting. Our grey journalism may not be under state control, but grey journalists still need to be paid, which means that they need to toe the company line, make advertisers money, and keep their sources happy (and, in some cases, alive). So it is interesting to see when establishment people like Exum and Farrall (I know, not stateside, Australia is representin' in CA) set up blogs...they all of the sudden can cite to blogistan, write colloquialy, and give unburnished opinions. They create a bridge from the old grey writing to the new-look news.

We're scary as Hell because we write for free (mostly). We can write what we want, how we want without responding to editors (mostly). We can scoop sources, we can give analysis, we can write scathing responses to bad sources and bad analysis, all beyond government reach. That's pretty cool. And sure, grey journalism is going to be around for a long while, but it may already be tipping towards a Gazetebashi model.

I got attracted to Registan and the general stanosphere by the cutting writing knocking the old media to size (this comes to mind, particularly, but I've been reading for way longer than that). The blogging allows for all-access to analysis pretty handily, and I wonder if, after all of our teeth-gnashing, we may have a bigger say on the policy we mock than we may think.

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