Today on Scripting news, Dave Winer has two posts that are very interesting if taken together.
The first gives his impression of the current state of the relationship (for want of a better word) between bloggers and the mainstream media in the wake of a 60 Minutes story on Bush’s record in the National Guard where supposedly new documents were brought to light that a huge range of bloggers have subsequently called into question with substantive critiques of the legitimacy of the documents.
The second notes that the update time on his site still reflects his long stay on the east coast and wonders whether he should update it to reflect pacific time now that he’s taken an apartment in Seattle for a few months. Taken on its own, it seems a trivial question.
I wonder though, if Dave was conscious of the connection between the two issues, the tension between old consolidated media and new, distributed media on one hand, and the time zone he chooses to file his stories.
The old consolidated media has a bi-coastal bias, with a particular focus on NYC and DC on the east coast, and LA on the west. To some, there is something sinister about this bias, and not without reason, but the underlying causes are rather mundane. It is natural for people, even professional journalists, to have some bias towards issues close to home and because the media has consolidated in NYC and LA due to a variety of forces, and in DC because its the center of all three branches of government, home for most of the media is confined to a few cities on the two coasts.
When it comes to national news though, that bias leans east. The countries unoficial “paper of record” the New York Times, is on the east coast, the TV news organizations are headquartered in NYC. Even NPR, the mainstream alternative news source comes out of DC.
Bloggers aren’t subject to the same dynamics that caused centralization in those old east coast cities, and so their is the opportunity for blogging to bring a broader perspective.
So, my answer Dave’s question. He should update his blog to show that he is “filing” his posts from the west coast and when he’s pickign what city to make an extended visit to next, he might want to consider looking for a way to file from the mountain or central time zones. Salt Lake City, perhaps? Maybe St Louis, or New Orleans? All have interesting historical significance in the building of the contry. St Louis served as the gateway for the settlers that ended up flowing into the west. SLC developed as an important provisioning point for those many settlers as they headed further west to California, Oregon and Washington, and as they spread throughout the arrid inland of the western reach of the country. New Orleans is interesting for being one of our oldest cities which grew from a different cultural tradition from the protestant northeast.