If The Iconoclast was a daily morning stop for you, then you don’t need us to tell you that it mysteriously disappeared sometime in the last day or so.
Loved by many and hated by more, The Iconoclast was by far the most controversial local website since…well…ever. But the hate was mostly unjust if you ask us.
The Iconoclast may not have always shared the same vision as those it took issue with and at times, they might’ve seemed a little harsh (OK, a lot harsh) but it was always obvious that the collective Jonahs had one common goal: the betterment of our community.
Their lack of the need for ad revenue, coupled with the anonymity that comes with using a Blogger account, allowed them to take the average citizens’ point of view and to offer up alternate versions of what was reported in the local newspapers. In most cases, their arguments were just echoes of what all of us might hear in the break room at work. The difference, of course, is that the break room at work is confined to the four walls around it, whereas The Iconoclast was a highly-trafficked blog that was accessible to anyone in the world.
In cities much larger than Fayetteville, blogs that are critical of local institutional power and politics are a dime a dozen. Heck, some of them even make the Jonahs look tamer than a teddy bear. For example, check out Tony’s Kansas City to get an idea.
The Fayetteville Free Weekly put it best when describing The Iconoclast as something to read “alongside your daily paper to help you read between the lines.”
As citizens, we’d like to think that we’re getting both sides of the story but there were plenty of cases in which The Iconoclast’s writers exercised their FOI rights and offered up a few bits of information that were absent from the local newspapers. Were those bits of information always the missing pieces of the puzzle? No. Should the newspapers have reported all of the things that the Jonahs discovered on their own? No. But those bits-n-pieces were certainly noteworthy of citizen discussion and what better a place to have a discussion than on a blog?
Just as the government, the media, and all sorts of other institutions have the right to spin their messages in a favorable light, the citizens also have the right to question what’s presented in front of them. They always have. The only difference is that they’ve got a much louder voice nowadays. And search engines like Google can hear everything they say.
Is that a good thing? In some cases, yes. In others, obviously not.
Were the writers of The Iconoclast outed and threatened legally for digging too deep? Maybe. Are they just worn out? Could be. Max Brantley offers a vague explanation over at Arkansas Times saying, “Other obligations have caused The Iconoclast’s retirement. But the author came out of an earlier retirement, so all hope is not lost.”
Exactly why The Iconoclast has been removed is something we may never know. One thing’s for certain, though, and that’s the importance of blogs that question mainstream media. If the Jonahs don’t make an official comeback, we sure hope someone else steps in to take their place.