Commentary glut

I can't imagine that there has ever been so much daily commentary on the news and everything else as there is today. In addition to all the cable TV news shows and talk radio shows, there are hundreds of thousands of weblogs like this one devoted to every sort of interest, every political view. If you know what you are doing, you can start your own daily newspaper, available to the entire world instantly, and for free, both to the publisher and the reader--in a matter of ten minutes!

Old style commentators in major magazines and newspapers have not only new competition, but find themselves dogged by thousands of instant online critics who bring with them a big audience. If they put out an article which doesn't have all its facts straight, it will be a matter of a few hours before the internet hounds howl. Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times are favorite targets of bloggers nationally, and Doug Grow of the Minneapolis Star Tribune catches a lot of hell from bloggers in Minnesota, as do his bosses at the paper.

This is all good. The ability to publish for a wide audience has never been more widespread. Long live the First Amendment. The glut of commentary does mean, however, that one can get swept up in it all--whether or not you write. One can vicariously follow the daily debates, the to's and fro's--and never get anything else done!

Sometimes I get nostalgic for the time when the Fargo Forum would come in the mailbox every day and actually contain something I hadn't heard or read many times already. If news were food...more of us would be grotesquely obese than already are.