Monday, January 15, 2007

Albert Camus and the blogosphere?

The Legal Underground resurrected text from a 1946 issue of the New Yorker on Albert Camus:

"[Camus] has an idea for a daily newspaper that would take a lot of the fun out of newspapering. “It would be a critical newspaper, to be published one hour after the first editions of the other papers, twice a day, morning and evening,” he told us when we called on him in a hotel on West Seventieth Street, where he had spent his first five days in America. “It would evaluate the probable element of truth in the other papers’ main stories, with due regard to editorial policies and the past performances of the correspondents. Once equipped with card-indexed dossiers on the correspondents, a critical newspaper could work very fast. After a few weeks the whole tone of the press would conform more closely to reality. An international service."


Whether or not "the whole tone of the press" has conformed more closely to reality as a result of blogs might be questioned. You can fool some people all the time, and if one reads a story in the New York Times one obtains a first-formed opinion that can be difficult to break. On a narrower issue, law reviews publish unbelievable errors (e.g., Boone invented the integrated circuit) with impunity and without correction.

Separately, one notes, on the topic of omission, that newspapers, in the past, have collectively decided not to publish certain known facts, such as the severity of FDR's disability or JFK's dalliances. Neither U.S. bloggers nor newspapers picked up the issues with the research of Hwang Woo-Suk until Hwang's position in Korea had become untenable. Issues with King's thesis at Boston University were discussed outside the U.S., but not in the U.S., until an article by the Wall Street Journal appeared late in the day.

Separately, on the impact (or lack of impact?) of blogs, note the following:

Missouri kidnap boy had own blog

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Published: 16 January 2007

The mystery surrounding the kidnapping of two teenage boys in Missouri deepened yesterday with indications that one of the boys, who was held prisoner for more than four years, had a website - raising new questions about why he did not try to get help earlier.

Abducted in October 2002, Shawn Hornbeck was found last Friday along with a 13-year-old boy in the flat of 41-year-old Michael Devlin in Kirkwood, Missouri. Mr Devlin is now facing kidnapping charges.

A Yahoo user homepage belonging to "xxdevildevlinxx" - created in April 2004 - shows a picture of a boy who strongly resembles Shawn. Another profile using the picture is registered to an "mdevlin". A separate profile was taken out in November 2005.

Mr Devlin's only criminal record apparently consists of two traffic fines.


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