Citizen Blogger

Last July in my Online Spin column, I wrote a bit about local blogging and how it can fill gaping holes in our news coverage. Those gaping holes still exist, but they're slowly being filled by bloggers. Some of the aggregation tools I mentioned in my article are starting to emerge - RSS readers are starting to move into the mainstream. We can only hope that Microsoft builds RSS into Outlook. Kinja is being described by some as RSS with training wheels but it's valuable nonetheless. I can only hope that the blog movement continues to flourish.

It's no secret that the mainstream media outlets in the U.S. have a credibility problem. I've discussed in the past how increased competition has steered the mainstream media toward emphasizing scoops over substance. Thankfully, blogs are giving us information that is essentially unfiltered. I'm thriving on this stuff right now, taking breaks during lunch and after work to cruise some of my favorite blogs to gather information about anything and everything - especially the war in Iraq.

CNN can give me a somewhat sanitized version of what is transpiring on the ground in Iraq. It also doesn't give me much in the way of opinions of Iraqi citizens or coalition soldiers in Iraq today. Blogs give me that, and in doing so give me valuable information that help me make responsible choices as a citizen of a democratic society. I can't help but think that all of us should blog for at least an hour a day - write about what we think, what we feel and most importantly, what we witness first-hand.

If for some reason, you haven't seen how this phenomenon is manifesting itself in Iraq, please check out the sites of some of the Iraqi bloggers. There's a great diversity of opinion out there. I'm digesting as much of it as I possibly can. And it's great to see this information out there without filtering or agenda-setting that's so prevalent among the mainstream news media.

Start here, or here, or here. Follow links to other Iraqi blogs. Read it all - these people have assumed great personal risk to bring you this information about what's going on in their corner of the world.