Doug Clifton, head of state in the Plain Dealer newsroom, earns his wings in the Blogosphere with his latest post — a rant on why people are so damn stupid.
Until now Doug’s role as representative of the North Ohio Establishment seems to have reined in his impulse to rant. He’s been every bit the Reasonable Authority Figure.
But a blog provides powerful tempation to throw reason aside and unleash your inner Howard Beale now and again. Before long we all cross that “This pisses me off and you can’t stop me from saying it” threshold, and the rant emerges. Doug’s musings on the irate feedback he gets from readers:
Naive fellow that I am, I actually try to reason with many of my correspondents. “A newspaper is supposed to present a lot of different opinions,” I tell them. “That’s what they were invented to do.”
How could I “allow” that opinion to be expressed? How could I NOT allow it.
Almost invariably whatever I say makes no difference. Those who hold the view that theirs is the only correct one don’t understand the concept that free expression of conflicting ideas can actually make you smarter.
Everybody raves about how blogs let the audience talk back to the media, but they’re silent on how blogs can let the media talk back to their audience. Is Clifton exposing himself as an arrogant media titan? Not exactly. He’s really just being a blogger and railing on the crap his job exposes him to.
The rant exposes the reader to the guy behind the title, somebody with normal emotions like frustration and exasperation. Clifton’s brainlocked correspondents may seem impervious to reason, but at least they now have a chance to see him as human. It’s a start.