Posted by: The moderator | October 21, 2009

Drudgery

DrudgelogoclearSome individuals rise to power through elections. An elite few can network with other powerful people, climbing the social and political ladder. Others take power with military might, crushing all opposition. But only in the United States can someone command a vast audience and direct government action using three rigid columns of unadorned HTML.

Politico is blaming Drudge for the dollar’s decline. Yes, I learned about it from the Drudge Report.

Seriously, Drudge isn’t single-handedly killing off a currency. He just brought its decline into a painfully sharp focus. 28 links in 30 days tells you how much he cares about this story, which he probably feels isn’t covered adequately on the nightly news. Hence the reason he’s focusing on it.

But is his fixation on the dollar really a cause for concern? After all, he keeps stories on his page as long as they’re relevant, with some seemingly dead stories living near the bottom of columns for several days. This isn’t the first time Drudge has elicited responses from government agencies. It’s also not the first time a website or blog has grabbed the attention of national security administrators.

He is an integral part of the media, with his resources helping to form stories reported at other media outlets. As such, his “power” arises not from what he does by himself. His power arises from telling us about what other people do. Since Drudge Report is a new aggregator, he’s really just reporting on what others have reported about. He has a strong voice, but it’s not the kind of awesome power many assume he commands. He is heavily dependent upon others for his power and if we ever found a suitable replacement (hello Digg and Reddit), poor Drudge would have to find a new line of work.

What Politico’s article correctly points out is his motivation for focusing on the dollar’s decline. He links to negative stories, often tying them to Obama’s administration, even when the original article didn’t stress a connection. He isn’t looking for an all-encompassing view of the story, hence the reason articles highlighting the positive side of the declining dollar didn’t make Drudge’s page. Drudge hasn’t shied away from his conservative views in the past, nor should he be afraid to show his opinions now. It’s his website and he can run it any way he wants.

The only thing to learn from all of this hubbub is that few sources of information are truly neutral because all humans have their own inherent biases. Some do a good job trying to be objective. Others wear their biases on their sleeves like MSNBC, Fox News, and the majority of blogs. Drudge is a single man (plus one “staff” member) providing lists of links to other people’s work. He can still manipulate that ever-so-limited coverage to favor a position in which he feels strongly. Take everything you read with a grain of salt and don’t limit your exposure to one news source, even if it’s an aggregator like the Drudge Report.

This sounds like the perfect time to plug my own little resource found under the “Gateways” tab. From mainstream news to niche magazines to a sea of think tanks, the “Gateways” are great for browsing lots of sources.

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