Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rap Nerd's Revenge: Is There Such a Thing as Responsible Blogging?

Back in the day (last year) before posts like this, a whole slew of people cluttering your Reader were teaming up to relaunch Oh Word as a giant rap magazine commune. It was an interesting time in which a lot of us were exchanging ideas and expectations for what we wanted this new utopian site to look and feel like. (Debates and differing visions over exactly nothing eventually sent us all back to our respective holes)

One of the most interesting debates we had was when Rick Ross was exposed as a one time C.O. Half the community licked their chops, claiming this was the perfect fodder for satire, self righteous rants and upping net traffic. The other half got a bad taste in their mouth and wanted to move their scope as far away from salacious trash like Ross' government job, or Charles Hamilton getting slapped, or now Roxanne Shante lying about her degree, as humanly possible. Based on the wording of that sentence guess where I landed on the issue.

My question is, in terms of actual research, reporting, etc. what have you actually done when you're putting negativity like this out into the world? I discovered this piece by way of Byron Crawford's blog. Crawford didn't break this story, Slate did, (which he duly attributes) at which point it was regurgitated by almost every site in my Reader (pertaining to Hip Hop) ad nauseum. No new facts were unearthed, no new perspective added, merely dutiful send ups of the same sad story, tinged with snarky voyeuristic glee. And much more potentially dangerous and disturbing: Each time the actual news is removed from its source it's muddled and obscured.

If you actually read the Slate piece Roxanne is an afterthought, the story focuses on a badly research, potentially fabricated Daily News story and the dissemination of misinformation in and around the internet. The origins of the Slate piece came from someone thinking about a story rather than taking it at face value, doing some actual work and coming away with a genuine article of new information worth our time. In fact the entire point of the piece seems to be don't just take bullshit you come across on the internet (or in rags like The Daily News) as gospel, which fittingly was cut and pasted and taken as just that by some of the same people who trumpeted Shante's triumph. The meta layers are enough to make your head explode.

Questlove seems to share my disdain and left a Twitter entry last night urging every asshole writing about this unfortunate incident to put 10$ towards Shante's college fund. Sounds good, but why not just stop being a fucking asshole?


Werner von Wallenrod said...

Well, here's a further thought for ya (and everyone following this):

If Hip-Hop Blog X is simply regurgitating the same stories with no new facts and no new perspective added... why are they in your reader? Why are you/we following these blogs?

The blogging economy seems to have turned "you vote with your dollar" to "you vote with your views." So why are enough people "voting" for these blogs that it's actually worthwhile for blogger after blogger to grab the same handful of stories and repeat them on their own blogs?

To be honest, I haven't even really pulled too hard on that thread myself... kind of a scary thought.

Abe Beame said...

Totally fair, I protested with this post but boycotting would definitely send a message if there were numbers behind it. The sad and depressing thing is I fear no amount of angry posts or unsubscribes is going to solve this issue.

Not saying the NYT is some infallible beacon of truth telling light, but if you saw the ratio of The Daily News V. The Times on the train it'd bring tears to your eyes. They cover Lohan stories on CNN. This seems to be the way of the world. My hope was the blogs that have me on tap might read this post and think twice the next time they throw up some asinine, irresponsible shit. Small differences or something along the lines of that liberal platitude.