Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Value of Blogging

Not a Level Playing Field but Moving Forward

We have had our own media outlet for 13 years (Homeless Grapevine), but it was a sporadically published and not intended to be timely. The Blog is another form of media that allows us to respond immediately to issues in the community. For decades only a few people had access to the public at large through the airwaves and the daily newspaper. They really had a padlock on shaping public opinion, and all of the rest of us had to sit on the sidelines with banners and bumper stickers when we had an issue. In addition, if our agency was condemned in the media, we were offered the birdcage liner pages to respond with a limit on words and content. We could send out a "press release" complaining, but I am fairly certain they compress all those into urinal cakes for the bathrooms of all the news rooms. If your agency was attacked by a television station you were out of luck. Their 17 minutes of news everyday were too valuable to allow time for amateurs to complain.

I spent some time this week communicating by e-mail with Mike McIntyre of the Plain Dealer about our blog entry for Tuesday. He felt that his story was fair and balanced, and I disagreed. As a journalist (not here but with the Grapevine), I would have never allowed the McIntyre piece, even by a homeless person, to be published in the Grapevine without a great deal more information provided. We disagree, and I did not convince him nor did he convince me of his fairness.

The point is that before this exchange would have never occurred between journalist and injured party. Basically, 10 years ago they would have told the reader to go suck and egg or they would have said, "I condemn you to the letter's page." Even if just four people visit this corner of the internet, it is still out their in the public domain. There is an opportunity for a quick reply to a problem seen in the mainstream media. You can make your case on a blog and a simple Google search will lead readers to your site when they are looking into the issue. The point is that the other side of the issue is presented and available to the general public. I have had this same experience before with a few other journalists who did not like the way we characterized their writing or reporting skills in this blog or the Grapevine blog. Now to figure out a way for the media to be forced to link to our blog when they attack us. If people get sent here, they do not have to tell us how old you are or what zip code you reside before being able to read our content.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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