The Dish’s Core Strength, Ctd

Jan 11 2013 @ 11:24am

Nat Worden gets our readers:

The complex but natural reporting process that is generated by [online journalism] has a certain organic authenticity that is rarely found on TV or radio or in newspapers Personal or magazines. More expertise and perspective is typically brought to bear. The pretense of objectivity is abandoned, making for a more honest forum, and everything is generally much more transparent.

Online journalists like Sullivan invite their audience into the reporting process and bring them along for the ride, while many traditional journalists keep the reporting process between them and their sources, leaving their audience in the dark about how they came upon the information they're reporting. Naturally then, traditional journalists often put the interests of their sources above their audience — a major problem in the corporate media — whereas the new breed of online journalist is reestablishing a genuine connection with readers and earning their trust in an age where distrust of the media is probably more rampant than distrust of government.

One of the best examples of reverse-reporting on the Dish was our "It's So Personal" series, a spontaneous outpouring of first-hand accounts from readers confronting late-term abortions, triggered by the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller. My impression at the time:

I've never seen the power of this medium so clearly and up-close: one personal account caused a stream of others. How could old-school reporting have found all these women? How could any third-person account compete with the rawness and honesty and pain of these testimonials? It was a revelation to me about what this medium could do. 

Coincidentally, a reader wrote in yesterday to praise the series:

I first became a regular reader of your blog in 2008-9, in the lead up and aftermath of Obama's first victory, during the financial crisis, and as you covered the Green Rebellion in Iran.  I became particularly taken with the Dish, however, when you started posting letters you were receiving following the murder of George Tiller. 

I am a philosophy professor and often teach bioethics.  For the past few years, when I've been introducing the topic of abortion by reviewing the different methods of abortion (on the premise that getting the empirical facts right is the obvious starting point for philosophical progress), and mentioned late-term abortions ("intact dilation and extraction" aka "partial birth abortion"), I've ended up talking about the "It's so Personal" posts.  I've then posted a link on my course website for the students to read themselves.  So thank you for offering my students a resource for understanding one of life's most complex moral decisions.

P.S. I haven't yet subscribed to the Dish, but that's just because I'm a procrastinator, and probably will wait until I'm forced to subscribe before getting myself officially signed up!

Previous commentary about our readership here. The full discussion thread on the Dish model and its new independence here.