Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Keith Burris

COMMENTARY

EconCat88, come in out from the cold

Toledo commentator is negative, but appears to care

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A few weeks back, the New Yorker magazine ran a fascinating report on the collaboration of the Guardian newspaper with the likes of Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald, “new media” journalists who have helped to reveal the depth of the national security state’s reach, and privacy’s demise, in England and the United States.

For many, Mr. Assange is a revolutionary, which some think makes him a hero and some think makes him a traitor. For many, Mr. Greenwald is a shrill leftist. But the impact of these men proves the new media revolution is here to stay, and the new media’s practitioners can collaborate with traditional journalists, to the public’s benefit.

So this is what I would say to the YouTube videographer EconCat88: Let’s talk.

This person has made hours of film and commentary about Toledo. It’s pretty negative, and pretty anti-Toledo, but it comes from a person who cares. Or did.

Why not come in out of the cold?

Why not say: Hey, I want to put my name on this stuff and be part of the adult conversation? Maybe I was off-color and a bit over the top at times. But that’s sometimes a part of commentary. I want to contribute.

Conventional journalists are wary of social media. The Internet sometimes seems a cesspool of narcissism and name calling. There are, too often, no standards — of fact, of reason, or of civility — applied.

And many people spending much time in the electronic world hide behind the wall of anonymity.

If you are not even willing to state your name, why should anyone take you seriously?

There are three levels to the blogosphere. One is ignorant people venting, often in ugly ways. The second is what you might call citizen journalists — people who have something to say but are perhaps not meeting the classical standards of grammar, fact checking, and fairness. The third is old-fashioned, professional journalism, simply delivered by electronic means.

EconCat88 is in the second category. The people in this group can either fall backward into name calling, or ideology, or they can revive the noble tradition of the pamphleteer — re-democratizing journalism. Despite mutual suspicion, Mr. Greenwald and the Guardian editors and reporters learned from each other.

I would like to see EconCat88 go to the next level: Don’t be a crank hiding behind the wall of namelessness. Join the dialogue and have the courage of your convictions. Personally, I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee and hear how you got into this. And maybe we could have a public forum — perhaps at the library. You could show two or three of your videos and we could have an open discussion and let the public talk it out. What issues aren’t we facing? What practical, small steps can we take to improve life in Toledo now?

EconCat, it is incumbent upon you to step up. Take off the mask and let’s have a conversation.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.

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