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Thursday, March 23, 2006


Those irrepressible bloggers!

Salam Pax

Salam Pax, left, the “Baghdad Blogger,” answers a question from an audience member Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. At right, Mitch Berman, Director of the Center for Literary Arts at SJSU, moderates the discussion.

I shot this right before spring break, and it never got posted. Salam Pax is an architect from Baghdad who blogged throughout the US invasion and occupation, which makes him a perfect symbol of the new journalism, in which everyday citizens blah blah blah new technology cell phone cameras wireless broadband old guard is falling yada yada yada.

Sorry. That’s not a response to Mr. Pax, who was a very entertaining and thoughtful man. It’s just the inevitable spit-up in response to all the noise I hear about the changing face of news. New tech is great, but I seem to remember that the camcorder was supposed to usher in a new era of citizen journalism after someone taped the Rodney King beating in L.A. some 10 years ago. To be sure, there’s a lot more videotaping being done now that you don’t need to lug around a suitcase-sized tape deck, but has it really changed the news all that much? Not that I can tell. With a few exceptions, I think all we got from those citizen journalists was TV shows like “Maximum Exposure” that specialize in spectacular car crashes, fires and the like.

Could people of blog (or the “blogerati,” if you’re going to take William Safire as an authority on such matters) change the news media? Sure, they already have. Can they add any value there? We’ll see. Should everyone just relax and quit acting like there’s some huge revolution about to happen overnight in newsrooms across the land? Yes.