Several years ago I read an article about "60 Minutes" and "Nightline" that was critical of how the shows handled interviews.
On "60 Minutes," questions asked by correspondents were often filmed a second time, without the person interviewed present, ostensibly for the sake of brevity.
The way to tell when this happened, according to the article, was if you could see only the correspondent and not the subject when all the questions were asked.
On "Nightline," a different technique was used - Ted Koppel would interview someone hundreds of miles away, with Koppel looking at the person on a screen and he or she apparently looking at Koppel on another. In other words, both people could see each other while they spoke.
But according to the article, the subject being interviewed would not be looking at Koppel on a screen and see him as he asked questions - he or she would be looking at a camera lens.
As a result, many of the people on the show came across as shifty because they did not seem to look Koppel in the eye. Problem was, they couldn't see him.
I haven't watched either show enough in recent years to know if the practices have been abandoned, but I hope so. They are inherently unfair and the potential for manipulation is enormous.
Why do I mention this? Because readers who post responses to postings in Blog Chowder may be unaware of the potential for similar abuses of trust.
As constructed, each of the bloggers at this site is, in effect, his or her own publisher, with control of the content. In turn, the publisher of capecodtoday.com, Walter Brooks, has control of the entire site, as he should - he owns it.
When a person decides to blog, a fundamental question has to be answered - to what extent will responses be allowed: completely unfettered, none at all or something in the middle?
Unless you are drawing thousands of readers every day, having time to respond to comments should not be a problem. This is why I have always allowed them on my blogs.
And since I often don't mince words in my criticisms, I have an obligation to allow those I've criticized to respond - in their own words, exactly as they write them.
I doubt that many people who post comments at Blog Chowder are aware that their comments can be edited. I say this from first-hand experience - Peter Porcupine misspelled a word in a response and I corrected it. Barbara Durkin, an intelligent and rational critic of the wind farm, double-posted a comment and asked me to remove one. Sure, Barbara, not a problem. Obscene spam appears on my old wind blog, for some reason on older posts, and I delete it. The same goes for anything libelous or defamatory - the laws for them still apply here.
As for me editing anyone's comments, that's it. Beyond that, I don't do it - ever.
Keep in mind that the bloggers here have control of only their own content; in other words, their postings and responses to them. None of us have access to the content of other blogs, as well it should be. We're a long way from the level of trust needed for open access to all on a site like this, if it happens at all.
This issue of access is one of the fundamental ways that online media differs from the mainstream. Every letter to the editor of a newspaper goes through an editing filter. Few publishers are comfortable running anything even slightly critical of them or what they have published, regardless of how much readers or viewers love seeing it. When was the last time you saw a correction on the nightly news?
These are among the reasons why mainstream media is so threatened by the blogosphere: many of us here are willing to surrender control of content - even to those we have criticized in the strongest terms.
The beauty of this approach is that it allows readers and our opponents to have their say, in their own words, in response to what they see in the media, rather than the traditional model of the high priests in the media interpreting their words for them.
Those still working in that model are worried about the future, as well they should. And this approach, to this observer anyway, looks to have a long, healthy future.