Blogging is an exciting and very immediate form of communication. It’s obviously different than the writing that one does for magazines, newspapers and other publications due to the lack of editorial input and control. This can be both good and bad. Good in the sense that the lack of constraint can promote freshness and an edge that many mainstream media sources lack. However, because of the lack of checks, inaccurate information can be transmitted.
I feel fortunate to have some dedicated readers of my writing and they occasionally “let me have it” when I post something that they think is bogus, inaccurate, or even pompous.
In my haste to write yesterday’s American Acquiescence, I inaccurately made the connection between television viewing and the increases in the rates of ADD/ADHD. When I wrote, “we’ve decided that we’ll plop our kids in front of the television six to eight hours per day and then, we wonder why he/she has attention deficit disorders and can’t read,” I incorrectly made the correlation between plunking kids in front of the television with incidences of ADD and ADHD in our country.
One of my readers (who also happens to be a dear friend), informed me that there is no connection whatsoever. Because I wasn't as informed as I should have been on the subject, I did in fact do a bit of reading on the subject last night, and I now am better informed about it. While excessive television viewing is detrimental and even hazardous to children, it hasn't been determined to be a direct cause of ADD, or ADHD. There is some evidence however, that seems to indicate some link between television viewing and and increased incidences of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and difficulty concentrating. According to a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Every added hour of watching TV increased a child's odds of having attention problems by about 10%. Kids watching about three hours a day were 30% more likely to have attention trouble than those viewing no TV." While the researchers accounted for many factors beside television that might predict problems concentrating, the fact that the TV-attention link remained is reason to be concerned about the negative effects of young children's exposure to excessive television.
This brings me back to blogging as a form of communication. The type of writing that I put up on my blog is closest to types of journalism and op ed writing than anything else. While I certainly don’t have the editorial constraints that someone at the NY Times or even the Peoria Journal Star might have, I do fact check what I put up and do my darndest to link information in an attempt to be factual and accurate. Even with print media and television, mistakes, inaccuracies and outright lies are disseminated, despite the supposed editorial checks and balances. Just ask Dan Rather about that one!
Unlike mainstream media, bloggers can use reader feedback to create an immediacy in the area of accurancy that is comporable to the immediacy of the content generation.
This raises an interesting point about the community aspects of the blogosphere. Because a writer will attract a group of regular and semi-regular readers to his/her site, a certain expectation is created. The writer feels a sense of urgency to write quality material, at least occasionally. The readers give feedback via email, or comments. BTW, don’t be shy about using the comments feature in order to provide feedback on what I write. You can post anonymously if you don’t have an account with Blogger. Or, you can register and post by name.
All of this creates the type of give and take that the best blogs possess. I don’t claim to be a world-class writer, or even blogger at this point. I do offer honesty, effort, as well as a commitment to being accurate, however. To be anything else defeats the purpose of coming here and sharing my thoughts and news of the world with you.