VFR’s work on the Martin-Zimmerman case

Responding to this morning’s entry, “Hey, Zimmerman was once an innocent-looking boy too,” Alexis Zarkov writes:

You are doing a fabulous job reporting on the Zimmerman case. I haven’t had much time lately to comment as I’m swamped with my professional work and other obligations. Nevertheless I try to keep with with ongoing events, and you are providing the most incisive treatment I’ve seen anywhere. With Zimmerman, we now have proof positive that the MSM, especially NBC, are a pack of liars. Without the Internet, we’d be in the dark.

LA replies:

Thank you very much for that. I really appreciate it. In fact, I feel I’ve done a lot on this story, but based on the sparse mentions at other sites, I haven’t gotten the sense that that my work has been noticed or has made an impact.

By coincidence (hah), at the very moment your e-mail came in, I had just posted my latest on Zimmerman—about the important article in Reuters giving the background of the event.

- end of initial entry -

Jim H. writes:

I noticed the comment from the fellow congratulating you on the coverage of the Zimmerman case.

I hadn’t thought of this before, but this is a very interesting example of how the internet can be used. There’s one main guy with a web site doing commentary and putting everything together, and some other people who are likeminded on that topic feeding him additional information and links in a collaborative effort. Nobody’s really in charge. There are no assignments or to-do lists. Most of the people don’t know each other. People just come together because of a shared interest.

I don’t know what that’s called — open source journalism? It’s not really “journalism” per se, but the net effect of assembling all of this information in one place feels like journalism, because people are able to connect the dots and see the bigger picture in a way that they can’t otherwise. As more information and commentary is collected, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

It is a worthwhile concept, and it has been interesting seeing it played out on your web site.

LA replies:

I wouldn’t say that no one is in charge. Yes, readers send lots of items which get posted. Readers’ commentary and sending of articles is obviously a big part of the site. But it’s not what you are suggesting, a cooperative, since one person is selecting and editing and posting everything that is posted.

Jim H. writes:

I didn’t literally mean that no one was in charge. Obviously you’re in charge of the site, in addition to writing your own comments. I just meant that a number of different people send in information on their own—simply because they are interested in the issue, and not because they are being instructed to or have been given assignments. You make the call on whether any of that ends up on the site. But it’s cooperative in the limited sense that a number of people are sending information on their own initiative.

This is something that I haven’t seen before. On the typical blog there is a post by the blog owner, and then other people comment on that post. Then there’s a different post, often on a different topic. On your blog there has been a real focus on the Zimmerman case, and the total collection of timely commentary and links—a number of which have come from other people—provides a valuable resource. The end result is that your site is the “go-to” place for information on the case. In my humble opinion anyway.

This has made me think about how that model could be used in other situations in which—as often happens—the mainstream media fail to present the other side of the issue.

That’s what I meant to say, but unfortunately I didn’t say it very well.

LA replies:

Right. VFR is (along with The Thinking Housewife) the only blog I know of where many of the initial entries are written by commenters, rather than by the blogger. This is made possible by the fact that I am personally preparing and posting all the comments. So if I receive an e-mail/comment that would make a good entry, I post it as a new entry, rather than as a comment to an existing entry. This gives readers the chance to have a much higher level of participation at VFR than they can have at other blogs. Also, knowing that their comments might be posted as new entries gives readers the incentive to write good comments.

Jim H. replies:

That makes sense. I knew there was something different about your blog, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I think “participation” is the word I was looking for.

LA replies:

At most blogs, the blogger writes what he writes, and largely ignores the comments, which are all handed automatically. As a result, there is often a disconnect between the part of the blog written by the blog owner and the part of the blog consisting of comments. At VFR, I am much more deeply involved in the comments, and the site is more organically interconnected, since I am editing and preparing the comments for posting. I do all this extra work that no other blogger does, and it’s not something valued or even noticed by the world at large, but some VFR readers do see it and value it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 26, 2012 08:26 PM | Send

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