Monday, February 14, 2005

Most excellent explanation for value of blogs

from Plaid Adder @Democratic Underground Forums - Ethos vs. Blogos (the Jeff Gannon story):

As I was reading the Americablog thing, it occurred to me that one mechanism at work here is the tradeoff between ethos and logos. For those of you whose memories of rhetoric and comp are mercifully dim, the three basic modes of rhetorical appeal are ethos, pathos, and logos. Pathos is the appeal to emotion, logos is the appeal to reason, and ethos is the appeal based on trust. In other words, in order to get someone to buy your argument, ideally you want it to be factually accurate and logically coherent (logos), emotionally powerful (pathos) and articulated by someone credible (ethos). However, if your argument is very long on one, it can afford to be short on one or two of the others. For instance, if you pour on enough pathos, nobody will notice that your logos is crap. THe right wing is extremely good at that kind of argument, for instance.
Increasingly, in our media culture, "ethos" is really about branding. People have identified certain news outlets as trustworthy and continue to trust them whether or not their reporting actually validates that trust.

But here's the problem: because these MSM outlets are used to skating by on ethos and pathos, they are really falling down on the job when it comes to logos. They already have the public trust, and they are very good at manipulating emotion (especially broadcast journalism). These things are now easy for them. Logical argument based on factual evidence is difficult--and more important, it's difficult to sell, because it takes longer for people to process. So that's really not what they're into any more.

In the blogosphere, where new blogs are being born every day and nobody knows who's paying for these people or where they come from, most everyone is starting from zero when it comes to ethos. Certain blogs are now well-known enough to be 'branded,' but most of them aren't. You're not going to believe a story just because you found it on a blog *unless* it comes attached to hard evidence. That's why that Americablog spends more time dumping all the evidence than it does on analysis (or, as he admits up front, proofreading)--because he knows that unless he comes across with evidence, nobody is going to buy it. If he were Wolf Blitzer, he wouldn't have to care; but since he's not, he does.

And that's why the blogosphere is taking over. Bloggers HAVE to use evidence if they want to be credible.

I cop to being a logos-driven guy, so I appreciate it when I am given a simple framework that explains so neatly my abandonment of tradtional news sources.

The whole thing is worth a read.


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