The way we write affects both style and substance. The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope–though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog’s being is: Here’s my opinion, right now.The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Traditional daily reporting–the news–already rushes ahead at a pretty good clip, breakneck even, and suffers for it. On the Internet all this is accelerated.

The blogs must be timely if they are to influence politics. This element–here’s my opinion–is necessarily modified and partly determined by the right now. Instant response, with not even a day of delay, impairs rigor. It is also a coagulant for orthodoxies. We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought–instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition. The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior.

That’s Joe Rago, in this morning’s WSJ… a company which has made a fairly decent living with an online presence. it looks rather suspiciously like Mr. Rago is feeling threatened. He proceeds to advise us that the phrase “Mainstream Media” is “a term redolent with unfairness and elitism.”

Tell me how he’s not being defensive. And unjustifiably so. Far from being unfair, it is the mainstream media itself which is turned its own name into a pejorative.

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.

The fact remains that the scraps of which you mention help to bring down the Canadian government at one point, and for that matter the Clinton administration at another. Two examples…. Two separate occasions where the mainstream media didn’t bother to open its yap apparently for reasons of it’s own. The blogs stepped into that space, and not only did the MSMS’s job for them, they had the public asking why this needed to be done… why the MSM wasn’t doing their job. I guess I can understand why you forgot that. And why you’re so defensive.

Appendum: (DavidL) Ok, I agree with Mr. Rago.  All bloggers are not as important as some bloggers think they are.  Then journalism is a process and not a profession.  The bloggers at Powerline are all lawyers by profession and damn good journalists to boot.  A whore is paid for her services but not for any level of expertise.  Then at least a whore is real person as opposed the fictious person, Jamil Hussien to whom the Associated Press attributed over sixty stories.  Absolutely the best reporting on the faux rape in Durham, North Carolina has been provided by K.C. Johnson, a professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, at Durham in Wonderland.

There is some good reporting in both the MSM and in the blogosphere.  The trick is to know how to find it, and how to avoid the lame stuff.

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3 Responses to “And the Horse You Rode in On…..”

  1. All bloggers are not as important as some bloggers think they are.

    OK, I cannot argue that particular point… But I would have to say, in response, that bloggers as a whole are undoubtedly more important, and certainly more influential, than any individual blogger or group of them. When put together, the blogdom as a whole represents a serious threat to the heretofore monolithic power that the mainstream media possessed. Wherein, I think, lies Mr. Rago’s problem.

    There’s this, too; the overall argument he left with us is that Blogdom is monolithicly inhabited by countless hacks who are uniformly unfair to the mainstream media. A look at history, reveals that when someone paints a group with so broad a brush as Rago, here, has, they’re reacting out of fear, being scared to death. That way, for example, lies racism, sexism, Nazism, and so on. All of those are the logical extensions of what Rago is peddling here.

    Let’s face it, David; the column where responding to, here, would never have been written, had the press not fallen down on the job, on what can only be read as a massive scale. Rago is apparently and understandably nervous, that someone has stepped up to fill that gap. The particulars I cited as regards the failures of the MSM, are only a few in the long list of such matters. He can certainly quibble with the quality of the work of some of the people in Blogdom. I may even agree with a lot of what he says on that point. But to dismiss the whole of blogdom as he does, seems to me and instinctively defensive measure, and one to be disregarded, or at least, denounced.

  2. I just don’t think of journalism as much a profession.  I’d much rather have an article written by a lawyer, than to have to get a legal opinion from say Maureen Dowd.  The fact is that plenty of amatuer journalists, a.k.a. bloggers, write do darn good reporting.  These journalism school graduates, professional journalist are getting shown up by unpaid amateurs.  Maybe it hurting their pride.  I aean Dan Rather and Mary Mapes were profesional journalists, in that they got paid for what they wrote.  Yet these professional got taken to the woodshed by some amateurs.  Ouch.

    The bottom line being paid to do something, to wit report news, is not the same as being competent in it. Witness the Associated Press’s Jamil Hussien fiction. 
    Competency deserves respect.  Being paid to write does not.  The MSM needs to learn that being paid does not trump competency. 

    Sure the MSM thinks the blogosphere is one monolithic blcc.  The only bloggers they know of are Andrew Sullivan and Ana Marie Cox.

  3. Me at Q&O just now, regarding Blogs replacing the mainstream media;

    ….there is only one that I’m aware of that suggests they are not write replacement. That would be Matt Drudge and company… And he is quite adamant about saying he’s not a Blogger.

    Certainly, there are a number of people who have delved into the stated work of the mainstream media, and outperformed them. But I have my doubts that there are more than a handful of bloggers who will make the claim that they’re out to replace the mainstream media. But here’s the thing; it is clear that Rago THINKS that’s what they’re about. and that, it seems to me, is revealing about the kind of job the mainstream media has been doing, even in the eyes of Rago himself. If you think you’re about to be replaced by somebody who isn’t really trying for the position, what kind of job do you think you’re doing? Good? Bad?

    As I say… you can read the fear in this man’s words.