Why we need a mainstream press, unwittingly illustrated by three comments in—of all places—the blogosphere.
Situation: New York Times columnist Joe Nocera is scrutinizing the many ways that students are abused at the hands of the NCAA. In the past few weeks he’s devoted quite a few columns to the topic. He has also blogged about it, including in this post today.
The post has induced some noteworthy comments, some of which contemplate whether Mr. Nocera should relegate his outrage to his blog, where people who are interested in such matters can find it but where people who are not can avoid it. Here’s one from Adrienne in Scarsdale, NY:
Could Mr. Nocera continue to comment on this issue in his blog, and save the precious column inches in the Times for news of broader and deeper impact? I understand that the NCAA is doing repellent things and harming some innocent people, but at a time when our nation faces so many dreadful problems (not least the current debased state of politics), let's save this particular hobby horse for the bloggers who care most about it.
Adrienne’s comment yields this direct response from Jimmy in Long Island, NY:
I disagree. Joe needs to continue his NCAA critiques in his NYT columns as well as his blog. Not everyone who reads his columns reads his blog.
Scroll down a bit and you find this earlier comment from LT in Boston:
Mr. Nocera, I have little interest in sports of any kind but have been reading your series on the NCAA religiously with a growing sense of outrage. The bullying mistreatment of the poor and less fortunate at the hands of the NCAA is abhorrent. For me, as a mother of two young children, the story of the woman and team being penalized because she wanted to nurse her infant is an outrage too far. Please let us know what we can do. Who should I write? Who can I call? Where do I send my donation?
And there you have it. For my money, LT in Boston takes the day. An essential purpose of the mainstream press is to show us things that we should be concerned about, but didn’t realize it. Information responsibility dictates that we not fall into the trap of the internet echo chamber—that we not spend all our time reading about and contemplating an increasingly circumscribed set of issues. Read the mainstream press to appreciate what you didn’t even know you weren’t appreciating.