The Enter Stage Right Link of the Month

Free Republic

One trend on the Internet that I particularly dislike is what I call 'portalization'. Many web sites seem to want to become a portal to something else. The problem with this approach is that with so many web sites trying to be all things to all people, they end up doing very little for anyone.

Other web sites decide to do one or two things very well and stick with it. The Free Republic is one web site that gives specialization a good name.

The Free Republic offers the average conservative -- or anyone really -- a chance to comment on how the media is covering America's political scene. Frequent visitors to Free Republic -- or FReepers as they are known -- post stories from newspapers across the world about topics ranging from Whitewater to national identity cards and begin commenting on perceived media bias or just the about way that some stories are reported.

FReepers (rumoured to include Larry Klayman and Gary Aldrich), and their less active brethren, are performing a valuable service by making the mainstream media accountable for their bias or genuine mistakes in reporting, something that the average citizen could not do effectively before the world wide web. Over 100 000 people visit the Free Republic every day to scan headlines and maybe offer their own commentary to a large group of people on the latest issues and news stories, something that only the talking heads on their dreary Sunday morning television programs could do before.

Of course, this approach isn't without its hazards. The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post filed a copyright infringement lawsuit last year against the unashamedly conservative Free Republic claiming that the web site has reprinted hundreds of their stories without permission.

That said, the Free Republic reminds me a lot of Matt Drudge. Drudge is an average member of society who is reporting on the events of his day from a small apartment room, while the Free Republic allows the average member of society to critique him and the rest of the media. Both are done by people who do not have the media's stamp of approval, which although has some dangers, also returns the United States to the days when the average person could publish pamphlets about something they believed in and receive a response.

Today's mainstream media has done a lot to smother and ignore the opinions of the public, but the Free Republic is attempting to bring that voice back. It's a service they perform well.

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