Spinning Out of Control?
Guest Post by Michael Chambers (guest posts are moderated, but not approved or endorsed by the CCA Steering Committee)
Putting the spin on a local issue is like creating a small eddy in a large stream. It’s almost not worth the effort. Some bloggers seem to think that all postings need a spin because the straight up reporting of meetings and issues is inherently boring and not necessarily self-serving. Let’s face it: blogs exist to promote a point of view and to win readers over to that point of view. As I have stated, bloggers have no Code of Ethics. Blog articles must be interesting or no one will read them. So the spin is the thing. Without a believable spin, the writer loses his or her credibility. Even with a patently ludicrous spin, some bloggers would rather be considered hopeless than believable. A Code of Ethics is a hindrance to many bloggers.
Here in Charlestown the spins about local issues create little eddies in the consciousness of the residents. So spins don’t take a big effort or have a great effect outside the town boundaries. The critical element here is reporting the truth about an issue without spinning the record so badly that the truth is lost and posting becomes a piece of fiction. The signs of fiction are easy to recognize because it is easy to spin with lies and innuendos and to ignore aspects of the issue that might reduce the viability of the spin. A discerning reader will quickly realize the technique of the writer. How committed to the truth is the writer? Does the writer deal with all the facts? How much of the article consists of innuendos and personal attacks? How much is fact, researchable, opinion, and outright lies? So what? Does it really matter? If you realize you are reading fiction, then no it doesn’t; but if you think what you are reading is the truth, then yes it does matter.
Actually, the best spin consists completely of facts, truth, and good reporting. I don’t consider myself a reporter and never claimed to be, but I know good reporting when I read it. It is difficult to write the truth and still try to maintain a rigid political viewpoint. As a matter of fact, it is nearly impossible. Those writers committed to Washington’s rhetoric, to a sociopolitical label such as liberal or conservative, left-wing/right-wing, constrain themselves to thinking and reporting within a narrowly defined viewpoint of issues. The trick is not to be a spokesperson for the narrow view but to keep an open mind and a global approach to local issues. In this way, the reader becomes a free thinker and is less inclined to accept the fictional spins of bloggers. It is more difficult to keep an open mind about local issues because the outcomes are more immediate and usually affect people we are close to.
Whenever I read these fictional blogs I tend to forget the spins immediately, but retain the well-written article much longer. I can only hope that my neighbors are discerning readers. Based on recent discussions with neighbors and friends in Charlestown, I am beginning to think the spin doctors are losing their audience. Based on the quality of the local articles I have read and the reaction of my neighbors to them, I am sure the local readership sees through the spin and smoke screens.