Do dancing half-naked girls threaten the New York Times?

Last week, as I rode a bus from Port Authority to my grandmother’s condo in New Jersey, eagerly awaiting a six-hour drive to Vermont, I grabbed the Thanksgiving edition of the New York Times and prepared to read some content that the Times won’t let me read for free anymore.

I was excited to see a front-page story on blogging in China, a subject that’s been getting a lot of press lately since an analysis of the blog explosion there inevitably leads to an analysis of the changing dynamic of Chinese Communism.

Although the article discussed some of this, and took a close look in parts at the ways bloggers get around censorship (“The content is often political, but not directly political, in the sense that you are not advocating anything, but at the same time you are undermining the ideological basis of power,” says one Chinese blogger), it’s only visual was this,

mumu

taken from blog of the article’s main subject, a woman named Mu Mu who, according to the Times, “appears online most evenings around midnight, shielding her face while striking poses that are provocative, but never sexually explicit.”
The Times has been, I’m sorry to say, in a sea of shit lately, what with the recent Judith Miller fiasco and many previous scandals over the last few years. This hasn’t been surprising, as much of the mainstream media has been making serious mistakes lately, from Dan Rather’s gaffe involving forged National Guard papers to Bob Woodward’s admission that he too knew the name of Valerie Plame before the rest of us.

The blogosphere has been responsible for keeping these scandals in the public eye and turning them into the unavoidable controversies they became, often because many political bloggers have had problems with the media for years and pounced when they saw blood.

So we often see places like the Times attempt to diminish the actual role of blogs, and this article is no exception. Bob, what are blogs like in China? Well, Jack, some are political, but most are just about fun-lovin’ girls dancing around in their panties. Well, Bob, what is the role of blogs in a democracy? Jack, I have no idea and I won’t discuss it.

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