Blogging is Nothing New
The first blogs were written before the American Revolution. Although you would think from all the attention this form of communications is getting that the blog is a recent phenomenon. To the contrary, the advent of the Internet and its popularity is what fostered the blog-o-sphere, but the concept flourished hundreds of years ago.
Back in pre-revolutionary times, there were few newspapers and most of them simply reprinted articles from the London papers many months later. The popular way to learn what others thought was through personal conversations, speeches, sermons, letters and pamphlets. It was these pamphlets that were the precursor to today’s blog — independently produced, highly-opinionated, single-minded in purpose, short on content, and directed at a broad unknown audience.
There were thousands of pamphlet publishers when less then three dozen newspapers existed. By the end of the seventeen hundreds, there were nearly one hundred papers which grew to four hundred by 1810 and twelve hundred by 1835. Early publishers were politically oriented, openly backed candidates and served as a forum for party philosophies; but as papers covered more news topics, this became less of a driving force. The importance of pamphlets diminished as the papers got stronger and their numbers increased.
It took another hundred years for muckraking and sensationalism to become the thrust behind the news. As the progressive movement emerged at the beginning of the last century, from the right with Roosevelt and the left with Wilson, newspaper syndicates were formed to support or attack the changing philosophies. During and after WWII, the papers assumed the mantle of guardians of the truth. Political reporting helped cement this status while papers fought television news for credibility. Now, with newspapers losing readers, circulation and revenues, we are returning to the pamphlet type of publishing for information – only this time it’s through the magic of the Internet.
While newspaper or TV reports are not always accurate, the large organizations normally support their reporting with research. This was not the case with pamphlets then and is often not the case with blogs today. In a free society, opinions should always be welcomed, even if we don’t agree with them; but we need to carefully consider who spawns these statements and what agendas are being advanced by them. We need to know if the blog is fair in its reporting or committed to a single point-of-view. It makes sense to check out other blogs offering opposing opinions so you can intelligently weigh the information and make your own decisions.
There are too many important issues facing us as Americans to not study what caused the problem and the effect various solutions will have on us and future generations. As pre-boomers, isn’t that our responsibility?