Monday, February 14

Smart Mobs vs. the Multitudes

The Blog Herald screams Old media hypocrisy in the war on blogging:
After threatening for so long to launch an attack on bloggers and blogging, old media has formally launched its attack on blogging this week following the forced resignation of Eason Jordon from CNN. The new war was strangely launched from France, a country better known for fleeing from conflict rather than provoking war, aside from a small period in the earlier part of the 19th century, by Bertrand Pecquerie, a director for the World Association of Newspapers, who accused bloggers of McCarthyism What is unique in the war on blogging is that the battles are not one based on politics, but one based on hatred of the blogosphere by the old media as it continues to lose readership and the revenues a large readership attracts. The targets are both those on the left and right of the blogosphere. And now we have Steve Lovelady, a former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal and now managing editor of CJR Daily, the Web site of The Columbia Journalism Review, who refers to bloggers as "salivating morons" who are part of a lynch mob.

I'd say M. Pecador is a actually a director of the WAN. And he didn't accuse bloggers or blogging in general of McCarthyism, just, as he wrote, "some bloggers"--you know, the kind who carelessly or deliberately misreport what people say. Like you. You salivating moron.

Oh, yes, the masters of the OM (the "old media," as opposed to the MSM) are shaking in their boots about the blogosphere and burning with envy. The grandiloquence! The megalomania!

"Salivating moron" does not do justice to the smartness of the mob, however. They leverage search-engine clout and self-promoting ballyhoo at conferences like Blogger Con--with a Microsoft Reader edition of "The Turner Diaries" on their laptops--to depict themselves as agenda-setting truth crusaders. I don't know much about this Eason Jordan thing--I'm too busy doing my old-media shtick involving laying out pages in Quark to be PRINTED ONTO PAPER, if you can believe that--but I tend to think he shouldn't have quit. That U.S. troops targeted journalists in Iraq is a reasonable suspicion, although Reporters Without Borders concluded that one of the most egregious cases was probably criminal negligence, not malice aforethought. Still, the casualty rates are much, much higher than in comparable conflicts, so it really does seem SOMETHING is terribly wrong here. When it comes to protecting reporters, you know, I feel a certain professional interest, even if the worst thing that can happen to most of mine is getting served cold coffee at a Wall Street press briefing. Attica! Attica!

The really frightening scenario is the synergies between "demented housewives" infotainment and yellow journalism on the 'Net. We're moving toward a mediasphere where the masses consume tripe and propaganda while we elitist plutocrats swap the straight dope amongst ourselves in semiprivately circulating hedge fund newsletters. On the hopeful side, there are a gazillion more bloggers out there writing about ornithology and the politics of their local dogcatcher election or obsessively deconstructing automobile advertising or The Artist lyrics than there are making all this noise. It's a matter of centrally-directed, culture-hacking neo-Gramscian smart mobs vs. the multitudes. My money is on the multitudes.


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