The Thing With The Link
In past times, journalists used to harshly criticise what other journalists had written, or their general outlook on life.
It generally ended at that.
If, say, Il Giornale criticised Paese Sera, none of its reader ran to the newsagent asking for a copy of the culprit newspaper, just to make sure they had been correctly informed and Paese Sera was really the Proto-Communist crap it was purported to be. You believed those you esteemed implicitly. The criticism was, therefore, a criticism that did not bring business to those who were criticised.
Not so today.
Today we have blogging journalists, and amateur bloggers, linking without any qualm to people whose opinions they disapprove of, heavily dislike, or even loathe. This brings business exactly to those who ideally should not have any; or at least should not have any from the right people.
It seems to me that blogdom and the advent of “linked” news has also caused another phenomenon: a controversy industry aimed not – or not only – at the excitement of their own supporters, but in a growing manner to the angering of their own adversaries; who will then angrily react and link to the culprit, moving vast numbers of people to bring money in the very pockets of their own adversaries. It is as if one would make a small contribution to the Labour Party everytime he thinks they are a bunch of senseless Commies. The worst of this is that the critics keep coming (look at the comment sections), so that it is clear there is no long-term price to pay for the short-term provocation advantage. The click is free to the one who clicks, but it brings an utility to those who are clicked. An utility so big, that entire businesses are run on that only. The more you provoque, the more money it brings, and in the long term. Not even Paese Sera could afford such luxury, and certainly not so easily.
The well-known blog multinational of all faiths and none seems to me a perfect, and at the same time an extreme example, of this. They do not have a print version, and the company as well as their bloggers profit from every click, it being utterly irrelevant whether it comes from people enthusiastic of their work or angry at their very existence. They will, therefore, be encouraged – encouraged in a very obvious and immediate way: ka-ching! – to be overtly controversial, so that their own adversaries may make their tills sing.
I do not think this is a behaviour that should be encouraged. Certainly not, when the person you – or I – deem spreading the wrong idea gets money whenever we want to make really sure that we disagree with him. It may be a smart move from their side to try, it certainly isn’t from ours to let them succeed.
Which is why I have, in the past, advisedly not linked to wrong blogs; particularly – but not only – those of the big Ka-Ching machine of all faiths and none.
I invite the other bloggers reading this to consider doing the same, and to be rather vague in their references: the reader must know enough to know that the criticised position comes from the wrong corner, without being exposed to the rather instinctive reflex to just click the link. Ideally, he should not even be interested about the particular blog or newspaper that occasioned the criticism: the argument made, and its refutation, could well be information enough; then we fight a battle of ideas and want to train each other to right thinking, rather than indulge in, say, heresy or dissent or cafeteria catholic voyeurism.
I know, the one or other will not like this, and will find that something gets lost in the way of information.
But it is, in the end, better than nourishing your adversary.
In past times, I never felt the need to give money to the Pravda, either.