As we moved into this brave new information world, I recall the dire warnings that citizens would get mowed down by the traffic flow on the information superhighway, and their only savior would be highly-qualified editors paring down and selecting information for them, so their delicate constitutions wouldn't be disturbed.
But, having been dodging my way through the hurtling semi trucks and priuses of the highways and byways that God built*, I say "Good day to you, sir!"
Yes, I am calling out the man.
Google Reader is now my opiate, and after months of detailed study and selection of news sources, I have found the truth. The plethora of RSS feeds I follow include the big guys such as CNN and the BBC, the medium guys such as blogs from various Think Tanks and small magazines, and the tiny individual guys daring to have their own say in things.
And the truth I have found is this: Not only do I not need the mainstream media to choose my stories for me or to provide the true in-depth reporting, but reality is the reverse. The CNNs and BBCs of the world provide the least interesting, least detailed take on current events and arts. I now keep them in my feed just so I can browse the headlines and know what mainstream media is talking about, but I rarely actually venture into reading the abbreviated misinformed pap I tend to find there.
No, when I want a good in-depth understanding of a news item, a science subject, or a political ideology, it's the medium and small guys who provide it. That's where I find detailed multi-page write-ups that cover all the angles typically missed by mainstream media.
And, as citizens of the blogosphere have found with the recent John Edwards story, it's also the way to keep the mainstream media from filtering out stuff you may actually find interesting. I first heard about the Edwards story the day it broke, a week or two ago, and I had some interest in the matter (I can provide some gobbledy-gook to make my interest seem high-minded, and in part it probably was high-minded, but at the end of the day it was simply a story I was interested in), but only yesterday did the mainstream media bother to notice the story, and then only because these other news sources (kicked off by the National Enquirer who, for this kind of story, does occasionally get things right) held Edward's feet to the fire until he fessed up.
So how can I possibly trust the supposed editors of the public interest when I have the story long before they do?
I don't read newspapers any more, because Google Reader is my newspaper, with sources selected by me based on my interest and the quality of the sources. And I even have a comics section.
* Free Membership or extension to the first person who can identify the source of this quotation...