Posted by: evanmcarlson | July 7, 2009

De Toqueville in the 21st century

The exerpt from De Toqueville’s essay on American media is as true today as it was 200 years ago. However, the I would apply arguments he made referring to the diversity and decentralized media in the 19th century to the rise of the blogosphere in the 21st century.

De Toqueville argues that the spread of a diverse number of publications is a good thing for the free press and a good thing for democracy. With the majority of the mainstream media (MSM) controlled by only a handful of corporations, the internet and the blogosphere seems to offer American with that much needed diversity that appears to have been disappearing up recently.

De Toqueville writes: nother still more valid reason may be adduced: when no opinions are looked upon as certain, men cling to the mere instincts and material interests of their position, which are naturally more tangible, definite, and permanent than any opinions in the world.

In an era when everybody has an opinion and a forum upon which to voice it, it follows De Toqueville’s reasoning that men [and women] will cling to the mere instinctsand interests of their position. In other words, with pundits yelling at us from the left and right on television, radio, print and now the internet in particular, it is up to us to make up our own minds. The rise of the blogosphere has made everybody a potential opinion leader and as we saw in the 2008 election, people with no real experience or education in journalism can provide insightful analysis and important information.

So perhaps the overwhelming onslaught of punditry is a good thing. We have long been looking for the media to report just the facts to allow us to form our own opinions, instead the internet has made so many different opinions available that we have no choice but to take as much information from different pundits, listen to their opinions and make create our own unique points of view. It’s very hard for me to say, but is it possible that Rush Limbaugh could be good for society?



  1. Yes indeed…keep thinking about this and we shall be discussing it in our last class.

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