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December 20, 2006
WSJ: Blogs Written By Morons, For Morons
Actually I guess I don't disagree with a word of that. Trouble is he doesn't recognize that he himself is a moron, writing moronic pap, too.
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.
Indeed. Bloggers, however, are not paid a salary to report, nor can we spend, as a typical reporter does, a week or two on a story.
More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . .
Um, dude? When you're writing twenty or thirty quick posts a day, you sort of have to write with a tone of "careless informality."
A lack of irony in blogs? It's many bloggers' stock in trade. Is he actually suggesting the turgid, self-important style of the MSM is more rich in irony than your typical blogger's style?
As for writing more for "pronouncement than persuasion:" Most paid opinion columnists preach to the converted. There are few liberal columnists who write to convince skeptical moderates (and none who write to persuade conservatives), and the same can be said, mostly, for conservative columnists.
The fact is, liberals don't even recognize a classy outfit like the Weekly Standard as worth reading. Ever cite a fact to a liberal and attribute it to the Weekly Standard? How their eyes roll. If it doesn't come from the NYT or a nonpartisan source like, say, Mother Jones, they won't believe it.
And the MSM itself -- in its straight "reportage" -- tends to "pronouce" rather than persuade.
This guy just seems to be the typical gasbag. With the exception of the "careless informality" of the style, every sin he criticizes blogs for is equally true of the media.
And that irony thing -- does he even understand what the word means?
Take a guess what this guy's politics are. After attacking conservative blogs in detail for a paragraph, he also notes that such "fatuities" can be found on "leftward" blogs.
A paragraph spent attacking conservative blogs, then one sentence noting that leftie blogs have problems, too.
It's a mystery.
PS, his article isn't terribly well written. It's not well argued nor well considered.
He had a week to work on this?
Blog writing is, yes, bad writing, because it's mostly on the fly. It's the 20/80 principle: for 20% of the effort, you get 80% of the result; the last 20% of the result takes 80% of the effort.
It's true that blog writing isn't well polished (or, in my case, even proofread a single time). But that last 20% of polish would consume a couple of hours a day, and there just is not the time for that.
Ever read a technical manual, jagoff? It's a particular sort of writing. Not the most pleasurable writing, but a sort of writing very well-suited to its actual purpose.
This guy -- a paid assistant editor at the WSJ -- is knocking blogs for lacking the one thing MSM staffers have over bloggers: A straight salary and plenty of company-paid time (and support staff!) to put out one or two pieces a week.
In other words, the only real superiority his MSM halfwits have over most bloggers is the fact that they are MSM, with the benefits and privileges of such.
More Careless Informality! I guessed wrong about the writer's politics, See-Dub tells me. He worked at the Dartmouth Review, one of the country's staunchest conservative college rags. (Where I doubt they have a very high "persuasion" to "pronouncement" ratio, btw.)
It's not that he's liberal, it's just that he's smug and callow and just jazzed he got a job in the MSM.
I think that accounts for 90% of the MSM's anti-blog animus -- it's tough to get a job in the MSM, and those who make the cut have reason to feel like they've accomplished something. But when some nobody comes along and generates far larger audiences than they do without the MSM credential, they feel their Big Damn Accomplishment is greatly diminished. Hence, these constant cri di couers of "I'm relevant! I'm better! I still count! You here me, Mom and Dad! I'm still somebody!"
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