The Blue Pages

. . . rantings from a young Democrat inside the beltway and outside the loop

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Did you hear the news? I've been named Time Person of the Year. No, really--me. I hope there's some sort of prize money.

Well, more accurately, YOU were named Time Person of the Year, too. "You," you'll see if you follow the link, refers to YouTubers, Bloggers, and other individuals who now have a capacity to affect their country in far greater manner than ever before. The argument is that bloggers helped put funding and momentum behind candidates, George Allen wouldn't have been defeated if it weren't for YouTube, Facebook and MySpace have made it easier for individuals to get their messages out, and blah blah blah.

So congratulations, You. You're right up there with FDR, Deng Xioaping, and Bono.

No offense, You, but I don't think You would've made my list. I might pick Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for being the politicos behind the successful election season (as, respectively, DCCC and DSCC chairs). Or how about Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is about to become the first female speaker of the House? Or perhaps Rummy, since 2006 was shaped politically by the American public's consensus that Rumsfeld's war has been a complete failure.

Still, as much as this year's person of the year is a nauseoutingly cutesy selection from the geniuses at Time ("I know!! How about YOU!" "Promote this man. Break time!"), there is no doubt that the Internet is really being harnessed as a tool for democracy. But does this make our country better, or worse? Is this something we should be celebrating--that the slightest gaffe will be immortalized and can ruin a public servant's career because someone out there put it up on YouTube, or that the same out-of-context arguments can be cited over and over by rabid partisans? I think there will be some time before we know if the costs outweigh the benefits.

I forgot who brought this up to me, but someone pointed out recently that journalism is really reverting back into what it was at the beginning of the 1900s. Originally, newspapers were blatantly partisan, and that was the expectation--many were paid for by political parties. There were multiple news sources, and people pretty much adhered to the ones with which they agreed. We eventually entered a world of objective journalism, but now with cable and the internet, we've created narrow niche markets to the point that being objective may no longer be financially feasible. That is, when there are 3 news sources on TV, a large segment of the population is up for grabs, so they to appeal more broadly. With 40 cable news stations, they may each have difficulty accessing enough of the market to be profitable, so they have to distinguish themselves, and thus become conservative news or liberal news or whatever. More so with the Internet--what's the most popular "moderate" or "centrist" blog? I don't know, because there probably isn't one.

So, don't get me wrong, I'm proud of You. You clearly affected things, for better or for worse. And at the very least, it will be hard to imagine a larger cop-out for Time in years to go (2007's Person of the Year: Carbon-based Life Forms!)

Oh, and this is funny. When you go to the Time website, you get a Chrysler ad (I don't know if it is still there, but see the Daily Kos, which pointed this out, for the screenshot) before you can proceed to the Person of the Year section. Clearly Chrysler wanted to play off the fact that people would be going to check out person of the year, and wanted to incorporate that into their ad.

So, the first line? "You may not be Time Person of the Year." Wow--they probably thought that one was pretty safe. D'oh!


  • At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Lauren said…

    Man, first the Picktacular winner and now Time's person of the year? I am on a rolllllll.


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