Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Broadside at the Blogosphere

Joseph Rogo, Assistant Editorial Features Editor at the WSJ, has launched a broadside at the blogosphere over at OpinionJournal. Some sample quotes from his op-ed:

"The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think."

"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 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."

Rogo's assertions are easy enough to knock down. Is the blogosphere significant? Ask Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. Minimal reportage? Who exposed fraudulent photographs published by the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and Reuters? Who is leading the push to verify the existence of the mysterious Captain Hussein, so often cited in AP dispatches from Baghdad. I'll give you a hint: it wasn't the editorial staff at the Wall Street Journal.

Quality? Submitted for your consideration, look at our post from this morning, outlining the difficulties associated with expanding our ground forces, as proposed by President Bush. True, it may not match the literary stylings of Henry James or even Joe Rogo, but we think it's well-reasoned and informative, providing context and fact that you won't find elsewhere in the MSM or the blogosphere. Oh, and by the way, many in the blogosphere hold down other jobs, so we post whenever we can. In other words, we don't have the luxury of being a paid scribe, able to spend hours writing and rewriting a 750-word op-ed, with a team of editors standing by to further refine the product.

We'll agree with Mr. Rogo's assertion that there is a lot of crap in the blogosphere. But the same problem exists in the MSM, where the piety and sanctimony of many outlets is simply nauseating and redundant. No matter where the article, editorial or op-ed appears, the underlying message seems to be the same: We really are smarter than you, and we'll tell you what to think. The blogosphere is the natural--and inevitable--response to media elites who think they're more significant than they really are.

And, unlike the media dinosaurs, blogs exist in a cut-throat world of competition for readership and feedback. For every new blog that appears, scores of them die every day because they don't reach an audience, or their message fails to resonate with readers. The same rules don't apply to the big media, where corporate subsidies and misguided advertising revenue will keep them afloat long after their logical expiration date.

As for charges that the blogs tend to repeat the same themes? Yes, you could say that the blogosphere is often an echo chamber, but so is the mainstream press. How much deviation do you find when comparing the editorials of The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times? Is there really any difference in the way ABC, CBS and NBC will report today's news from Baghdad? And yet Rogo refers to the blogosphere as a "mob!"

Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.


mark said...

Well said.

I would add that, among the top 10,000 or so blogs, there are far more writers with PhD's and MA's in genuinely rigorous academic disciplines ( not " journalism" majors)possessing measurable subject expertise than in all of the MSM combined.

Add to that base, those bloggers who have substantive career or life experiences foreign to most journalists who become reporters at some small-town paper straight out of college.

The blogosphere is often a healthy corrective to big media pretense to knowledge that all too frequently comes up short and clueless.

jwookie said...

Rogo bile certainly doesn't apply here at In from the Cold... I can always count on finding truthful, even apolitical, analysis of situations here.

Keep up the good work spook!

baddog46 said...

Apparently if you can't use loquacious in a sentence or make an obscure reference to Henry James, the you don't deserve to blog.

cold pizza said...

I'd rather read a lawblog or psycheblog or milblog written by an actual practitioner of the craft. Journalism majors may be able to write better prose, but I suspect when attempting to reframe the story in their own words, not knowing the nuances of the story, they lose the substance. Or they bring an obvious bias to the story that prevents them from seeing any conflicting views.

I trust spook because I spent 20+ years doing some of the same things he's done and I can bear witness that he knows of what he speaks--experiences and insight that a journalism major lacks. -cp

LanceThruster said...

I wouldn't even shortchange the eloquence of the blogs. There's a difference to being in love with your own words (often seen in the most trite MSM offerings) and lovingly crafting your words.

I've also never seen funnier, more biting satire than in the blogs. Laugh out loud funny stuff (on terribly sad and depressing realities).

I salute you spook!