An Evening Out:  Blogging and Framing

I will participate in a Commonwealth Club panel discussion tonight about the blogosphere.  I need your help.  Anyone with an intelligent comment to today’s blog, gets a free ticket to the discussion.  My blogging colleagues at San Jose Inside are not eligible. The “intelligent comment” standard would eliminate each one of us anyway.

Here’s the question for the panel: 

“Are blogs a valid grassroots form of journalism? Or is there too much chance for inaccuracy and not enough fact-checking?”

Here are the other panelists: 

Dan Gillmor, Founder, Grassroots Media, David Pescovitz, co-editor,; Writer-in-residence, College of Engineering, UC Berkeley,  David Satterfield, Managing Editor, San Jose Mercury News – Moderator, Special Guest: Chuck Olsen, Producer, Blogumentary

The program begins at 7:00 p.m., at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Second Floor (150 East San Fernando St., San Jose).

As for the free ticket for intelligent comments, there is actually no charge for the event – that way, you may actually meet another San Jose Inside blogger.


If you can’t get out tonight and want to hear a good speaker on Friday, go listen to George Lakoff.  He’s a UC Berkeley professor of cognitive linguistics and author of best selling book, Don’t Think of an Elephant

Lakoff makes the case in his book that Democrats need to frame issues better using language and imagery, as the Republicans do.  (Example:  the inheritance tax is now called the death tax by the GOP). 

I first met Lakoff during last year’s presidential campaign.  He is both an interesting speaker and all around nice guy.  I recommend his book and an earlier one:  Moral Politics.  Here’s a link to find out more about the Friday event. 


  1. Jude,

    Blogging has its place right next to the so-called legitimate news sources. Consider the great fact checking by veteran news man Dan Rather.

    Blogging is like a conversation between a conservative and a liberal; full of half truths and misconceptions.

  2. “Lakoff makes the case in his book that Democrats need to frame issues better using language and imagery, as the Republicans do.”

    Framing?  Yep, it’s all about framing.

    Will be Lakoff appearing at the Improv later in the week?

  3. Blogging is the virtual town square, or sidewalk cafe, where everyone stops by and speaks their mind on the issues of the day.  It is the “digital pulse” of the people, and the free market of ideas that truly realizes the goals of the Internet.

  4. You might want to know that blogging, if done correctly with fact checking, can be a Good Alternative to print and broadcast media.  Case in point is this Thursday’s panel that will discuss BART to San Jose and its alternatives.  It details how the most articulate voice against BART to San Jose was ousted from the panel by Rod Diridon, Sr.  for no reason…

    This was front page, over-the-fold headlines in both the Palo Alto Daily News and the Los Gatos Daily News last week.  The Merc’s
    “Internal Affairs” column did a story on the exclusion of Greg Perry from Thursday’s panel.  I expect METRO to do a story on this as well.

    The blog also exposed the fact that Rod Diridon, Sr., who excluded Perry from the BART to San Jose discussion panel, is the husband of Commonwealth Club CEO Gloria Duffy. 

    Translation: a good blogger can outhustle and even outclass even the most skilled journalists and traditional journalism institutions.

  5. Jude,

    Blogging should never be confused with professional journalism, nor should FOX News, the National Enquirer or a press release issued by a candidate or cause.

    Journalists, like consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, and priests, get their fair share of abuse.  But one should never confuse the ravings of masses as real or professional news coverage.

    That doesn’t mean that bloggers cannot contribute to the news cycle.  Valid information imparted by a blogger, verified by a professional journalist and attributed accordingly can, and has, had an impact on a national scale.

    But all bloggers are not equal.  Professional journalists know how to separate facts from opinion, the ravings of a lunatic from cogent analysis and credible information from malicious charges.

    In addition, bloggers should not have the same legal protections as professional journalists when it comes to libel or slander.

    Free speech is a wonderful thing, but it can be abused; as we have seen on this site once or twice. 

    For instance, although some anonymous posts have been pure gems, many are simply cowardly personal attacks on others.  There are some bloggers, who bravely put their own names on posts, who would be considered more credible if they remained anonymous.

    Such is the nature of an unbridled, unregulated vehicle for free speech.  The one thing that I’ve found that makes blogging worthwhile and fun is that it gives everyone an opportunity to voice an opinion—even an unpopular one.

    It is still to be determined, however, whether or not the airing of all views actually improves our level of discourse.

    My hope is that it will. . .notwithstanding the meanderings of some on this site.

  6. “Are blogs a valid grassroots form of journalism? Or is there too much chance for inaccuracy and not enough fact-checking?”

    Since your question will be addressed in a panel discussion, perhaps you might also discuss whether there is a lack of fact-checking and too much chance for inaccuracy in panel discussions.

    The “journalism” standard that has been used to criticize the blogosphere is transparently absurd, tantamount to discrediting a witness at the scene simply because his words were not delivered under oath. From the public’s perception the standard claimed by professional journalism is just that, a claim; an assertion of accuracy based upon allegiance to a professional code. Contrast that to what readers are offered on the best blogs: the right to question, directly challenge, and contradict any and all information provided. I’ll take the blog, any day.

    The “journalism” that we get from the mainstream media is the journalism that shields us from information we are not trusted to possess. The media adheres to an egalitarian standard that requires that uncomfortable truths be suppressed, and that information flows only one way. Objectivity simply does not exist in the news (I challenge anyone reading this to dig up a single tough question ever asked of inflammatory, finger-pointing NAACP president Rick Callender by a Mercury News reporter; find one example of the existence of journalism’s alleged “fact-checking” standard).

    Had the public been provided by the mainstream media what it deserved, a fair, impartial reporting of the news, blog sites devoted to news wouldn’t be important enough for discussion. The arrival of the new technology was not enough to create the explosion of news blogs, it also required the failure of the old technology—film and print journalism. The public is tired of having its news sorted, filtered, and repackaged. The growing popularity of blogs is due to the fact that news departments have lost the public’s trust, and as proof, I ask you: can you name a sports blog? I can’t, because I get my sports news from a variety of mainstream sources, all of whom seem more committed to informing, not influencing. I have no reason to look elsewhere for my sports news and, apparently, neither has anyone else.

    If mainstream news people want to know why the public is migrating to new sources, they should take a look in the mirror.

  7. Jude:

    I wish I could attend this evening and listen to the discussion; however, I will be attending another event.  Hopefully your next blog will give us all a short update on this timely topic. 

    I did want to mention that IMHO “framing” goes on from both parties with a great deal of success.  In 2000 Mike Honda successfully framed Jim Cunneen as the gun totin’ tree cuttin’ neo-conservative.  It worked for him.  Darren Seaton did a number on Rich De La Rosa this last election.  Heck Manny Diaz did a pretty good job on Tony West way back when. 

    In this last national presidential campaign I think the Democrats did as best they could attempting to frame their candidate John Kerry as a strong defense guy with a great military record.  It just didn’t stick because it turns out that he was neither strong on defense nor would he produce his record (which could have countered the swifties) from his military service. 

    Again, thanks for letting us know about your participation and I hope to get an update in the future.

  8. Blogs are like the morning conversation among a group of old farts in baseball caps in the neighborhood coffee shop. Some of what you get is dead-on accurate, some of it is right out of the Twilight Zone, and much of it is humorous with a grain of truth.
    But is it Journalism? Let’s put it this way…if the dam bursts and the wall of water is about to flood Silicon Valley I won’t be turning to for my information.
    But I do read your page most every day to see what everybody’s saying about what the journalists have already told us.

  9. Blogging is meant to make all of us equal, even those who want to talk down to the rest of the bloggers as self proclaimed experts on lobbying, or people who claim to speak for ethics, yet, have to cloud their put downs.

    It is truly the market when the little fellow is on par with the big one.  More little fellows, however, seek to pay their just debts to others instead of revising history.

  10. Blogging has depersonalized, dehumanized, and decivilized civic discourse & debate.  Rather than have a meaningful discussion on the issues of the day, we hide behind our computers cloaked in psudenyms bloating out whatever comes to mind. 

    Since we no longer talk face-to-face, we feel that we are more free to liberally speak our minds yet hold no accountability for our words.

    Blogging is not journalism; it is just a fancy word for a discussion board that really does little to shape the public debate.

  11. Blogs are transparent and correctable. Honest bloggers take their critics and correctors seriously. Dishonest bloggers will alienate thru readers by testing their trust. That is the same pressure that regular journalists face but the feedback loop is tighter in the blog world.