Saturday, April 9

Blah, Blah, Blog

Blah, Blah, Blog (Editor & Publisher):
... it's wearying listening to pretty much the same people saying pretty much the same things: Blogs are great. They're changing media. They're taking the corporate media to account. They're self-regulating. There's no barrier to entry. Yes. We know. Tuesday night's event was billed as a "Reuters Newsmaker Debate" -- moderator Paul Holmes used the term several times -- but nothing was debated. Even the designated oldsters on the panel were bloggers, and the only disagreement was to what degree participants share Jeff Jarvis' conviction that blogs are a total, complete, unmitigated, unprecedented good, capable not just of transforming media but also of forging Mideast peace, providing a clean and renewable source of energy, removing ring-around-the-collar, and cleanly slicing a tomato even after sawing through an aluminum can. That's not to say that all the agreement is wrong. It's to say all the agreement is moot. "Debating" whether blogs belong in the journalism is debating whether the genie should have left the bottle: Whether you like it or not -- and most do like it -- it's done. And it's time to stop discussing it at panel after panel. There can be real debate, and interesting panels, if instead they look at how this new news environment can function as a business.

Amen to that. I'm getting so sick of what is essentially a series of infomercials, a hucksterism campaign by interested parties. Hey, I'm a blogger, but I no longer identify with anyone putting themselves forward as a representative of the phenomenon. A real blogger does their thing whether anyone is reading it or not, just because they get a kick out of it. I like to wander around, find excellent little blogs about gardening or dogs or the tour schedules of heavy metal bands or the hot action at the church softball league--Father McDuffy's inside the park dinger!--and offer friendly congratulations on a job well done. That's the kind of stuff the newspaper can't afford to put a full-time person on.

Another amen to Eric Boehlert of Salon with 'Citizen journalist'? Try partisan hacks, on how the Noise Machine tried to reproduce its Rathergate 'success with the memo describing how to make political hay out of the Schiavo case':

Led into battle by Power Line, which posted over a dozen conspiratorial-sounding posts about the memo, bloggers seized on its misspellings as proof of deception and, relying on echo chamber tips from GOP staffers on the Hill, became more and more sure in their pursuit. "Is This the Biggest Hoax Since the Sixty Minutes Story?" a March 21 Power Line headline asked. Then, on March 30, came "Talking Points Story Goes Up in Smoke." (Time magazine honored Power Line as Blog of the Year in 2004 for its role in the CBS scandal.) But then, late on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the author of the memo had stepped forward: An aide to Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida admitted he had written it. Now the facts are clear: The memo is real, and it was written by the Republican side and distributed by the Republican side, making it a GOP talking-points memo. Nonetheless, dealt a weak hand in the Schiavo case, bloggers all went in on a bluff. And now they refuse to pay up. In fact, they're actually congratulating themselves for helping "get to the bottom" of the story. But the meltdown has exposed their often mindless naivet�. Writing in Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, Power Line's John Hinderaker insisted the memo just didn't add up, that it couldn't have been written by a Republican because it was just so ... inappropriate: "These political observations are not 'talking points' at all. These are comments on political strategy which would be out of place in argument on the Senate floor, or in a media interview." That's a basis on which to launch a conspiracy theory? And here's Power Line as it hatched the nonstory: The memo "does not sound like something written by a conservative; it sounds like a liberal fantasy of how conservatives talk. What conservative would write that the case of a woman condemned to death by starvation is 'a great political issue'? Maybe such a person exists, but I doubt it." On Wednesday, the right-wing Washington Times demonstrated its unique brand of naivet� when it further hyped the episode by reporting that it had contacted all the Republicans in the Senate and none had admitted they were behind the talking-points memo. (Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, insisted the memo was "an invention of the press.") Does the Times really think that partisan, and as it turns out erroneous, denials qualify as news?

I'm sure we'll soon be reading about Salon's "politics of personal destruction." These people have a limited arsenal of tropes, kind of like used car salesmen, and they're not that good at thinking up new ones.


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10/18/2005 06:36:00 pm  

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