At long last I return to posting on a regular basis - and I have several vital stories to share and an observation on the affects of gathering information without the Internet.
Despite the efforts of any 24 hour television news source, or the info offered on local news, the overall lack of info and the poor quality of depth such coverage provides indicates how much more vital, accurate and constant the Internet (and bloggers) are to the state, the nation and the individual. One example I noted yesterday was "news" coverage of a proposed release of an over-the-counter weight loss pill, Xenical. Both CNN, MSNBC and at least one Knoxville station "teased" the story with such headlines as "a miracle pill for weight loss", despite the facts - that at best it reduces body weight by only five percent, that side effects include loose stool, flatulence, and loss of bowel control. (Effects I'm sure the obese and those near them would not crave.)
Just one random Internet search today showed a more pertinent bit of information - sales of the drug over the counter would most benefit the drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline. The story of this weight loss pill will be best appreciated and understood by individuals who bother to search for and read multiple sources of information on the Internet, such as this blog or this source. These, of course, are only a few of the hundreds of bits of info available.
As I've said for years, television news, along with most local newspapers, crop and chop stories to fit in small spaces in and around advertising, which has become the primary concern of many "news" organizations. Far more in-depth, dopplerized details of weather forecasts are given more time than hard news stories. A few headlines, maybe a feature on one story, and feel-good filler or celebrity gossip fill the half hour or hour newscasts. Small local papers depend on feature stories about local bigwigs and cropped and chopped news syndicate stories.
However, with the resources available on the Internet, I could easily spend an hour or more (if I wanted) to read about a single story or issue. I don't think I'm the most typical web user, but like many others, I read more than one source for info on any single news story. It takes some time to read and search and then weigh the information for usefulness and accuracy. Television especially has become the shortest of shorthand, usually with a slant on "teasing" the viewer to keep watching for the omnipresent "next big story."
Internet users and bloggers READ - perhaps that's the biggest difference. And we do spend Time using the resources for all manner of topics, from personal to business to politics and even for entertainment. Guess that means I am prejudiced in our favor.
Here's something else I noticed just last night and must comment on (before this post becomes a vast volume no one will read).
Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, was on The Daily Show last night and actually referred to the devastation of the Gulf Coast and potentially thousands of deaths there from Hurricane Katrina as a "bump in the road" for the Bush Administration and FEMA. Good God, if that's a bump, I hope to hell there ain't no potholes. One fine local blog source for the horror and failure regarding restoring the Gulf Coast can be found at Facing South, who have been giving superb coverage to this national tragedy using many sources on the Internet.
Here's just one comment from one of Tuesday's posts by R. Neal:
"It is, however, difficult to recall an event in modern American history that encompasses such a complex set of practical, social, political, racial, and class issues, or to comprehend the work that will be needed to recover from a natural and social disaster of this magnitude."
There are many excellent and in-depth reports on Facing South by Neal and Chris Kromm about the conditions in the Gulf Coast, the consistent and systemic failure of FEMA and the Bush Administration that deserve your reading time.