In the early days of Twitter, some guessed that its evolution would lead to end of the blog. In fact, the opposite has happened. Blogs have exploded with the opportunity to use Twitter and Facebook to distribute information and change the way readers interface with online information.
The great expansion of blogs and issue-oriented websites is a spectacular development. Years ago, information didn’t get widely distributed unless one of the three broadcast networks deemed it worthy. Much of their information came from a limited number of major daily newspapers who were the same determiners of what was newsworthy and what wasn’t. Liberals may dispute the charge that the media had a liberal bias, but they would be wrong. And bias or not, there is something a little troubling about leaving only a few lofty elites in a mostly closed society with the opportunity to largely determine for a nation and the world what information was newsworthy and what was not.
The next most significant development to break that logjam was the growth and development of cable news networks and eventually Fox News. Say what you will about Fox News, they changed the rest of the news more than anyone else. It’s difficult to censor information and color the news inappropriately knowing one of the new kids on the block wasn’t going to let you get away with it.
I’ll be honest. There are parts of Fox News that I think are quite valuable. But when I do tune into to cable news, I also try to watch CNN, CNBC and MSNBC to see how certain stories are being covered. It’s nice to have more choices than only NBC, CBS and ABC news. And it’s nice to have news available in real time. And rather than wait for the next day’s nightly news broadcast each of these outlets is accessible and updated 24/7 online.
The once proud daily newspaper is not what it once was and it never will be. Most newspapers are read online now. And though slow to the game, most have tools available to do a better job of online reporting than a simple website or blog. But all the new websites and blogs play a critical role too. They further erode the idea of traditional media elites controlling what the public is exposed to and attaching judgment to that information.
One of the reasons that net neutrality is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive is because there really is no way to even try to stop that information from flowing freely. Shut down or slow down a website that you find politically objectionable and the story will be instantly broadcast throughout the world and alternative modes of sharing that content will overwhelm any effort to suppress it. The amount of information available 24/7 in real time is staggering. There are few downsides to it.
The only downside that I can even contemplate is that there are a lot of rogue sources spreading information that is of suspect credibility. It’s self-correcting, however. Inaccurate and untrue information is a problem, but the marketplace finds it and challenges it almost immediately. I do think, however, that before one spreads information of very suspect accuracy, it is worthwhile to spend a little time evaluating the source. They should pass the smell test.
I try to be careful about what I tweet and what I share or like on Facebook. Personally, I try to be particularly careful when the material is highly critical or accusatory of the Obama administration or liberals with whom I strongly disagree. It’s important to maintain credibility. There is plenty of good information, great stories and impressive data with which to challenge the administration and other liberal policy efforts. When we use information that’s not credible, we simply provide the left (and the traditional media) with a tool with which they will attempt to undermine the credibility of all conservative critics.
For that reason, I often rely on information shared by think tanks who have passed the test of time. There are a lot of them out there. If you’re looking for information on states, you must take a look at State Policy Network. SPN is network of conservative and free-market, limited government think tanks from all 50 states. They are an incredible resource. If states are your thing, I’d also encourage you to take a close look at The Heartland Institute and the Goldwater Institute. And personally, on all issues and particularly federal and international issues, I regularly rely on my three favorites The Reason Foundation, CATO Institute and Heritage Foundation. And you can never go wrong by checking out National Review, American Spectator and The Weekly Standard.