Last week I went for the first time to the regular bloggers’ breakfast in Berkeley. I sat next to an intelligent, well-informed non-blogger who harped on the old canard about bloggers merely offering comment on items they had read in the “professional” media. As my friend Dave Winer, who was also at the breakfast, said, “In Berkeley?”
In my daily perusing of feeds in Google Reader I find dozens, perhaps hundreds, of counter examples each day. Take today. If you want an insight into the international community’s mishandling of Bosnia, look no further than afoe (A Fistful of Euros). The limited appetite Americans in particular have for international news is largely dominated these days by the Middle East, with a dash of China. But the Balkans are still with us. I had a chill of recognition with this passage:
I’ve known a lot of Bosnians. They’re lovely people. But their politicians are, by and large, the scum of the earth. Nowhere, not even in Serbia — not even in Texas — is there such a baffling contrast between likable, easy-going ordinary people and the venal, mean-spirited asstards they choose to lead them. It’s a disturbing mystery.
The importance of blogs like afoe can be gauged by this passage from Ethan Zuckerman: “Of the two hundred fifty foreign correspondents [working for US media], one hundred are employed by the Wall Street Journal. I wondered about the geographical distribution of that hundred and the other reporters – would we find a huge concentration of journalists in Iraq and Israel? Would we find any in Africa other than in Cairo and Jo’burg?”