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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Printing versus Blogging

I started this blog during the summer and the rate of growth has been quite surprising and pleasing as thousands each week log onto this site. Hopefully over time that number will grow so that there can continue to be dialogue in our community on a variety of local, regional, and national issues.

Tuesday marked a couple of firsts; Matt Rexroad mentioned The People's Vanguard of Davis in his blog after responding to a piece that I wrote in which he was mentioned, and Richard Harris referenced this blog in his column in Tuesday's Davis Enterprise.

In his column, Harris writes:

The Halloween View From South Davis is across the digital divide instead of the great Interstate 80 concrete divide.I don't blog. Read them but don't write them.

I put my picture, real name and e-mail address on anything I write for public consumption. Straight up and simple. Shake your hand, look you in the eye and tell you what I think.

Call me old school or label me a Luddite but if you're going to opine, criticize, whine or aggrandize, you should not hide behind the electronic curtain of anonymous pseudonyms in today's blog eat blog world.

But the times are a changin,' Bob, and today's Thomas Paine-lite pamphleteers use blogs as the new water cooler, phone call, rumor mill and leaflet. Frankly, I think many bloggers suffer from print envy.

One presumably local blogger takes "Davis" as his (or her) own nom de plume and recently used his Internet curtain cover to disagree with me about Target and SMUD. He made some interesting arguments but it's hard to take anonymous critiques seriously.

"Davis" usually uses Enterprise columns, editorials or news stories as the foundation for his screeds. Serious envy. One day Mr. Pseudonym picked on Rich Rifkin for "pseudo-satire." The next day he tore into the paper's editor (curiously also named Davis) because her husband took a public position on an issue. Stop the presses on that one. Quit your job because your spouse has an opinion? "Davis" needs to get married.

At least the former "Yolo Blogger," a UC Davis employee who was busted for using school computers to blog, was funny. I hope he buys a home computer and starts it again. As for "Davis," it's a small town. Face your neighbors at the grocery store. Write a letter to the editor. Come out, come out whoever you are. Olly Olly oxen free.
Harris states that I have a serious print envy. I do have a serious gripe--it's not an envy--with the media monopoly in the city of Davis and the lack of reporting on a lot of key issues, the one-sided reporting on many more, etc. So when I go after the Davis Enterprise, it is not because I envy them, it is because I fear them. And I think they do not serve the majority in this community well in the service that they provide.

Now allow me to make a secondary point. Richard Harris gets a full column every other week to say basically whatever he wants. And that's fine, I don't begrudge him of that. However, in order for us to respond to Harris publicly, we'd have to write a letter to the editor, that Debbie Davis may or may not print several days later (and she's generally printed my letters, so I cannot complain there). They are limited to 350 words and they are a one-shot deal.

Harris points out my criticism of Rich Rifkin. I'll use this as an example to demonstrate why I prefer blogging to newspapers. Rifkin's column on Target, which I responded to on October 20, 2006, generated quite a bit of controversy within the No on K community, and people emailed me and asked me to respond. Now the policy of the Davis Enterprise is that you can only have one letter pertaining to a campaign. That is a very stringent policy and it means that you basically get 350 words, whereas Rich Rifkin or Richard Harris could get roughly 700 words or so every week--or twice the size--and again he can write on whatever he wants presumably.

Now let's compare the situation of the Davis Enterprise to this blog. When I wrote the blog on Rifkin's column, Mr. Rifkin was able to come over here and respond. And if he had chosen to, he could have repeatedly responded. I've never edited someone's comment, I've never deleted someone's comment, and as long as they aren't threatening people, breaking laws, or using profanity, I never will edit someone's comment. This is a space where there can be free discussion. You can choose to use your real name, put your home phone number as Matt Rexroad did, or post anonymously or psuedononymously in my case.

Blogs are the wave of the future, because the confines of communication are now open and not owned by a corporate and monopolistic entity. I make no profit on this forum. I charge no fee to access it. The public is free to come on here and respond. That's the way it should be.

So I don't envy print. I think it is limited and its exlusiveness is a thing of the past. In fact, if you look at most of the major newspapers, they have gone to blogging as well and you can log onto the Washington Post, read a column and post a comment. You can log onto the and post a comment to the news stories. Notice that the Davis Enterprise--large portions of their website is basically inaccesible because you have to pay to access a lot of the text and there is no blogging. Blogging is the wave of the future. Decentralized communication is on the rise. And print no longer exclusively meets the needs of the populace who no longer wants to sit by passively and accept what is written at face value.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting