Two examples of why blogs are better than mainstream news coverage, when it comes to confronting reality and doing something about it, one from the climate wars, one from the front lines of women’s health.
First, Andy Revkin, a former New York Times journalist who still blogs there. He calls out a coal-industry-backed attempt to silence one of the world’s leading climatologists as the “Shameful Attack on Free Speech” that it is. By launching a Facebook campaign to convince Pennsylvania State University to cancel a scheduled talk by Michael Mann, the coal interests have indeed shamed themselves.
Antidemocratic, hateful, and coal-backed smear campaign against a scientist I’ve sometimes disagreed with but who has every right to state his case at Penn State or anywhere else.
A few hours after Andy’s post, the Fb page disappeared. Penn State is sticking to its guns, too. Score one for the good guys.
Second, this week’s embarrassing decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to withdraw support from Planned Parenthood quite rightly elicited a howl of protest from women and other supporters of human decency everywhere. The internet exploded and the subsequent reversal can be largely tied to that online outburst. Among the most cogent and explicit — and truthful — accounts of what the original decision meant can be found at Tom Levenson’s Inverse Square blog, where he titled his post “None Dare Call It Murder.”
No mainstream news outlets had the courage to point out the connection between the breast cancer screening that Planned Parenthood carries out with Komen support and the fate of the women who receive those screenings. Tom does, though, by citing a recent study that estimates the effectiveness of breast cancer screenings:
Take the most modest number from this study –519 women screened for each life saved. That’s on the order of 13 women from the 6,700 screened with Komen Foundation money who get to live.
Or: that’s 13 women who will die for lack of those funds.
Those losses can’t be called manslaughter either, not as I see it. Preventable deaths that flow from lack of access to the standard of care are wholly predictable, even if the individual victims are not identifiable. Those blocking access through want of funds know — or should — what will happen. There’s nothing accidental about these outcomes.
Fortunately, Komen’s executives eventually realized they had made a serious mistake. And those 13 women will get to live. But only because of the countless blog, Facebook and Google + posts, tweets and other online rants that came so fast and furiously that they could not be ignored.
There is power in social media.