Telegraph article on deserters

The UK paper Telegraph posted a story late last week saying "5,500 men and women have deserted since the invasion of Iraq." A search of Google shows a few articles from last year, even covering President Bush speaking on the topic, but very little is said about it in the mainstream press. There has been pretty widespread coverage of the casualties of the invasion of Iraq, but few mentions of the deserters who according to this article seem to be nearly five times as numerous.

After effect

Talking with Criag Huntington yesterday about this year's Nevada Boys' State program has me thinking. There is a big part of me that really wants to include a lot of discussion of new media and encourage the participants to understand just how much a part of the process they can be, even if they are not full time journalists or communicators.

The challenge is that the days are already just jam packed, a part of what makes the program so very good, not only is it great content but the days are jam packed with great content. So the solution appears to me to be to encourage the alumni from the program to continue to participate by encouraging them to write about local issues and local happenings after their time at Boys' State.

But is it journalism?

Many a discussion recently has been held on whether blogs are journalism and their authors journalists. At the same time we hear from our new audio blogging, er podcasting compadres that it was wonderful that Jon Stewart gave the entertainers at Crossfire what for and called their bluff. In less than a half hour Stewart pointed out the problem. The entertainers on Crossfire are no more journalists that most bloggers.

Somewhere along the line it all broke down. There is an aspiration that many bloggers have to be recognized as journalists. They want to be a part of the club, to call the fourth estate home. But journalism is so much more than just telling the story one wants to tell. It's more than a collection of press releases and spun yarns. Dave Winer has been a poster boy for the power of blogs (and there are multitudes of ways in which blogs are very powerful). Those who say blogs aren't journalism often draw out comments on his weblog about how the writer "doesn't get it." Today Winer said:

One sided stories abound

Think, but only about one side

In my rambling over the web I recently encountered an internet I came across an article with an interesting title. Gambling Lobby Stacks the Deck, which came from a page about Indian gaming had all the appearances on another article about the powerful Nevada gaming lobby taking on the Native American interests in California.

A couple of parts of the article by Dr. James Dobson read:

The recent national elections paint a clear picture of how gambling money and influence are overrunning the democratic process...

In California, Indian tribes used $70 million of the billions they have earned from casino operations to end-run the political process and obtain voter sanction for their activities...

Certainly one could be concerned with the huge price tag of the California election. But, nowhere in his article does Dobson mention that most of the opposition to the Indian tribes was from Nevada gaming interests. In fact the opposition spent more than $100 million of the trillions they have earned from casino operations in an attempt to end-run around the rights of Native Americans.

Dobson, who heads Focus on the Family, seems to take a one-sided stand on this issue. As there are with most complex issues there are many sides that need to be considered in making a judgement about the merits of any industry.

Catching a Dream, an article in the Albuquerque Journal shares some of the merits of gaming.


To be a journalist or not to be a journalist

Dave Winer points out on Scripting News why he disagrees with David Weinberger when he says bloggers are not journalists. I'm very glad I watched the video post that started off the most recent round of this question. As Weinberger's post hits the nail on the head.

Too many folks who get wrapped up in this question seem to think there is a special aura that goes with being a journalist. That the title is a lofty one. It is a serious profession and it is filled with honorable people who work hard, in much the same way that many professions are.

As Weinberger points out there are a handful of journalists who blog. There are also many bloggers who have moments of journalistic greatness.

Bloggers are, by and large, story tellers. To say that anyone who has a blog is a journalist is like saying everyone who tells a joke is a comedian. Journalists are a group of people who work, primarily, at telling the story. They share many traits with bloggers who are mostly not journalists. Bloggers are, by and large, from walks of life other than journalism. They are people who like to write, tell stories and communicate information. But the true value in blogs is that they are written by the people living the story not an objective outsider looking in with a degree of disinterest. Journalists should be as concerned as Jay Leno is about uncle Bob telling good jokes at the birthday party. I don't think it really concerns Leno that there aren't going to be any open dates in Vegas.

Weinberger hits the sweet spot when he says that in the future blogging will be done by the people who are living the convention, who are seating delegates, who are attending.

Robots.txt vs. FOIA

Scripting News:Kicking Ass, the DNC weblog, on robots.txt disabling of caches on White House pages about Iraq. Interesting point. Now would be an appopriate[sic] time to ask the Democrats if they will have a different policy should a Democrat be elected to the White House in 2004.

It is also the time to take a look at how robots.txt should be used on government sites. Should web crawlers respect robots.txt files on government sites? The information is covered by the Freedom of Information Act. Perhaps bloggers should make requests for the earlier copies of the documents before the pages were changed.

By contrast the Colorado State robots.txt file has some comments in it about why each directory is eliminated.

Should robots respect robots.txt files on government servers?


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