Hugh Hewitt compares blogging to Gutenberg’s invention of movable type. What he means is that Internet blogging is a technological advancement that is being used to lower the barriers to mass communication. Gutenberg’s printing press drastically reduced the cost of printing books, and in Gutenberg’s day the rarest and most expensive of books was the Bible. When John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English, Gutenberg’s technology was ready to cheaply print and distribute that Bible to the masses.
Blogs have taken publishing to another level by making it possible for anyone with a computer to create his or her private newspaper. Whereas freedom of the press has been famously reserved for those with the money to own one, Internet blogging lets everyone become an amateur journalist.
And while this may not be all good, it isn’t all bad, either. The press has always limited information, in part because they need to turn a profit, and in part because human beings are story tellers, not dictation machines. The press tells the stories they like to hear. They take sides, and many times they ignore stories that disagree with their particular viewpoint.
Blogs are like the alternative newspapers that spring up on the street corners of every town. They are sometimes raw and in-your-face, but they express a viewpoint that isn’t being heard in big media.
What are some of the viewpoints that I represent, viewpoints that aren’t heard from much in big media?
I’m an evangelical Christian. But before you think “Pat Robertson,” let me point out that I’m also a card-carrying Democrat. To listen to big media, you’d think that evangelicals are genetically pre-determined to be Republicans. Not true.
I’m a pro-life Democrat. The Democrats for Life don’t get much respect from Matt and Katie, but they’re a serious political organization with a large following.
I’m a career missionary. Think African Queen without the leeches. You probably thought missionaries went the way of whale-bone corsets. My work puts me in contact with people who are very poor. That causes me to wonder about the global distribution of wealth and resources, the injustices that global economies create for the poorest of the poor, and the failure of the rising tide of capitalism to raise all boats, especially in countries where the poor are merely treading water.
My point here is that the mainstream media portrays Christians as cookie-cutter people. Blogging gives a voice to the real people who make up our very complex and untidy world.
Yesterday I attended a discussion led by Barbara Nicolosi of Act One, an organization that is training Christians to be part of the Hollywood film industry. Christianity has been historically an enthusiastic patron of the arts. At Biola, a Christian university with a top-notch film school, a new generation of students is being prepared to work in the media arts. Like leaven that spreads through the dough, the key to reforming the art world is not boycott but immersion.
The best bloggers use their blogs to talk about what makes them unique. Christians in flim will not turn the movie industry into Sunday school, but they will begin to tell stories that aren’t being told. As a result, you may begin to hear points of view that you have heard before. And that’s a good thing.