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As a blogger, I've never felt like the mainstream media were my rival or enemy.

So David Olive writes this column in the Toronto Star today, which more or less claims that the MSM have won the “war” against bloggers, and lists a variety of reasons. You’ll find Warren’s post taking apart some of those reasons, as well as a couple of well-known Liberal/Progressive bloggers reacting in Warren’s comments board, and in their own blogposts, where the MSM is accused of not being able to see the forest for the trees. David then seems to have reconsidered what he said after taking some heat from his blogging hero Eric Alterman in the US, and issues a sorta mea culpa at his blogging place at the Star’s blog section.

I left this comment at David’s blog, but I’ll re-post it here in slightly modified form and with additional thoughts:

When a group of us started the Progressive Bloggers aggregate in 2005, our objective was never to go to war with the MSM. Its main goal was to try and point out to media folks and others there were more then just conservative-supporting blogs on the Canadian blogosphere scene, which was perceived rightly or wrongly (probably rightly) as being Conservative-dominated at the time.

I would also assert that there are not many blogs – at least in Canada – that are looking to make a living off of their blogs. I challenged David and I challenge anyone else to find more then 5% of the Progressive Blogger membership that even has a paypal account on their blog soliciting for funds to support the upkeep of their website. I think most of us who write on blogs do so because it’s a hobby or we’re passionate about issues, or both. Quite frankly, I think most of us know we’re not going to make a living off of our blogs writings, and many of us don’t try.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m more interested in whether we can get some of our readers to consider our points of view and get them thinking we do have a point in some of what we’re writing about. Above and beyond that, I’m also interested if we as bloggers happen to openly support a certain political party, whether the leadership in that party pays attention to our blogs, because they feel we’re a conduit for the grassroots thoughts in their political party, and whether we can influence them in certain policy directions if we start writing that we feelĀ  they’re on the wrong track. Personally, THAT would please me to no end a lot more then making a dime off of this blog (and I am a little pleased about that aspect of things, from a Liberal bloggers POV with things that have and are going on).

I also think we can serve another purpose; that is to keep the mainstream media on its toes, and when necessary, take the MSM to task when we feel their opinions are out to lunch. As Steve of Far & Wide said over in Warren’s comments on this topic, I think a lot of MSM still are getting used to being publicly taken to task for their opinions; 10 years ago, all the newspaper readers could do was write a Letter to The Editor, which the editors might or might not publish, and which I bet 99% of the time, the columnist wouldn’t care a whit about what was said about his opinions. That isn’t as much the case this time. Blogs and their criticism cannot be suppressed by a newspaper editor, and they can and have a bigger general audience and are read more, and it sometimes forces the columnist to justify their column.. which isn’t a bad thing, in my view.

On the flipside, if we link to an MSM columnist’s blog (for whatever reason), we do give them some traffic, which I presume is important to their editors/publishers as justification for continuing a columnist blog – when they’re writing something interesting enough to get linked to and to gain additional traffic.

So, it can be a symbiotic relationship.. with occasional tension, but there is far less of seeing the MSM as a rival, at least on the Progressive/Liberal side of the blogosphere in Canada (I don’t doubt that the conservative side feels much different). I think on this side of the fence, if there is anything that we are with regards to the MSM, we like to be seen as a watchdog on the media, such as when they put out memes or statements that we feel just aren’t accurate (ie. simultaneously wondering why Ignatieff was invisible in Canada this summer, while at the same time refusing to report events that he was doing, or in a more specific case, being critical about what such national news outlets as CTV are saying, when we think they aren’t being as neutral or reporting both sides of a story as they could be).

That being said, I don’t consider the MSM to be an enemy or a rival, nor did I ever think bloggers were going to put the MSM out of business (they seem capable of doing that on their own).

UPDATE @ 8:26 pm: More here from Dan, who didn’t know there was a war to win or lose going on either.

UPDATE 2 @ 9:01 pm: Another post by Cameron on this topic, who also calls this a “phony war”

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