Sunday, March 27, 2005

Marquette Blogs

Nobody who starts a blog in 2005 can claim to be “ahead of the curve” technologically. So folks around Marquette have been playing a bit of “catch up” this past couple of months, with four new blogs (that we know about) written by Marquette people. In addition to this one, there are:
What is needed, of course, is more faculty blogs. More blogs that say, right out in the open, what faculty are saying to each other. Indeed, what faculty are saying in public forums, on the rare occasion they get to speak in public forums.

The virtue of blogs is the same at Marquette as in national politics: they provide an alternative to PR stuff put out by the current administration (on the one hand) and what the Mainstream Media are willing to report (on the other). Some alternative voices – such as talk radio – don’t really exist on college campuses, although local conservative talkers (Sykes, Wagner, Belling) will cover Marquette when the Administration does something seriously silly. But the threshold is pretty high for these guys, so for alternative reporting on most issues of interest to the University it’s the Administration, or the Mainstream Media (which means the Marquette Tribune) or it’s blogs.

The Administration is no more willing to release inconvenient information than is any Presidential Administration in Washington. They have, for example, concealed the results of a survey of students, faculty, alumni and staff on the “Warriors” issue. When their refusal to allow the College Republicans to raise money for American snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan created a firestorm in the media, e-mails sent out by public affairs carefully sanitized what they reported, giving the impression that the issue wasn’t much covered, and that most coverage was favorable to the Administration’s position.

The Tribune might be a counterweight to the Administration. But fledgling reporters are fledgling reporters. And when the ideological biases of the Tribune staff happen to coincide with the Administration’s position (as they did on the “sniper” issue), any real check on what University bureaucrats can get away with is lacking.

Imagine a situation in national politics where there is a liberal Democratic administration in Washington, and the New York Times is the only alternative source of information.

(Yes, I know that Tribune staffers will deny the paper has any ideological biases. But then, they don’t think the New York Times or National Public Radio or Dan Rather have any ideological biases either.)

Ideological bias can’t help but effect what stories are covered, and how they are covered. The Tribune, for example, failed to even mention the story of an Engineering professor who compared American snipers to Nazis and implied that College Republicans support Nazis. This was embarrassing enough to prompt the Administration to issue an apology, but the Tribune didn’t bother to report it. Apparently, it didn’t fit their template as as to what “hate speech” is. Apparently “hate speech” is something directed against blacks, gays and so on while nasty things said about Republicans, conservative Christians, etc. are merely “free speech.”

It is likewise implausible that the Tribune would ever discuss the unsavory views of some speaker brought to campus by JUSTICE, MANRESA and the University Ministry. But the three groups brought to campus a speaker who supported Saddam’s 1991 invasion of Iraq, and denied that Saddam used Oil for Food money to build palaces. Rather, he insisted that Saddam had his own funds.

So the purpose of blogs is to bypass the usual “gatekeepers” who get to control what people know. The more we have at Marquette, the better.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home