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Blog Battles Over Gallaudet University Presidents

There’s an interesting blogger-meets-journalist-meets-political ballyhoo going on over the ongoing debates and protests against Jane Fernandes, the woman chosen to be the next president of Gallaudet University, reports NPR’s Melissa Block.

To understand why it keeps growing, NPR’s Joseph Shapiro says it helps to see the protest as a bloggers’ revolution:

JOSEPH SHAPIRO, reporter: Ricky Taylor has become pretty famous among deaf people. They know him as Ridor. The blogger. Who boasts on his popular Web site — — that he is “arguably the most controversial Deaf blogger in America.”

RICKY TAYLOR: People say I’m a journalist. But no, I’m not that. That’s not my goal to be a journalist. My intention is to provide the facts but also enjoyment.

SHAPIRO: At Gallaudet, where protests have disrupted campus for three weeks, the man known as Ridor signs. An interpreter speaks:

TAYLOR: And I try to keep my blogging exciting and lively.

SHAPIRO: Taylor’s blog is certainly lively. It’s angry. It’s opinionated. And it’s full of attitude. Just like the protests.

TAYLOR: We can speak for ourselves. Blogging is something where we can take advantage of the spur of the moment and express our point of view.

SHAPIRO: Protesters demanding the resignation of the new president at Gallaudet get much of their information from Taylor and dozens of other deaf bloggers. Deaf people rely heavily on e-mail and the Web.

When the protests started, Taylor was a cheerleader and often an agitator. Now, when Gallaudet staff want to leak some piece of information critical of the school’s administration, it’s likely to end up on RidorLive.

Taylor’s a Gallaudet graduate. He says the protesters trust the deaf bloggers. But not the mainstream media.

The bloggers seem to be fueling the fire of this issue over a deaf president many resent for different reasons but specifically because she grew up speaking and reading lips before she learned sign language. Many feel she doesn’t fairly represent the deaf students and community of Gallaudet.

It’s fascinating to watch the media debating over the blogger versus journalist issues, but more fascinating to see bloggers having such an impact on social and political issues and news.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

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