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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

This New Blogging Thing the Kids Seem to Like

Well, I just saw Glenn on CNN. It was very short, but that's OK. The piece with Jeff Jarvis that they led off with was a scream. "If the blogger wants to talk about, say, bias in the BBC, he can link to the BBC web site!" Well Oh! My! God! Can you imagine that?? What will they think of next, images? And did you know that email didn't exist during the first Gulf War? I must've gotten mine through some sort of time tunnel.

Besides Glenn they had a woman on who looked kinda familiar, and I was trying to guess who she was. Virginia Postrel? Megan McArdle? No, she was Elizabeth Osder, a journalism professor at USC. "Ah," thought I. "This is going to so suck. She's going to tell us how you can't really trust anything you read in blogs, because it hasn't gone through the editing and reviewing and contemplation and juice-extraction processes that only Big Media can provide." But no, she didn't say anything of the sort. In fact, she pretty much echoed what Glenn said.

Instead, it was up to Aaron Brown to suggest that. Glenn told him about Tim Blair's Adventures in Fisky Fact-Checking. (Unfortunately, he failed to note who Tim Blair was; or rather, I thought the point that Blair is in Australia made it all the cooler.)

So I'm sitting there watching the segment with Niles, and Brown says something like, "But isn't it true that, even with all the different people contributing to it, that a lot of people are going to see incorrect information before the truth comes to light."

THAT'S RIGHT, ENTIRELY UNLIKE 24 HOUR NEWS, I shouted, poking Niles in the ribs with my feet. That happened a lot, as with the above-mentioned Tim Blair story, and when Glenn used the word "blogosphere", and Brown seemed surprised. "Bill Quick coined the term," Glenn told him. "Yeah," I said, "And Bill is always Quick" poke, poke "to point that out."

In fact, if there was a fault with Glenn's performance, it was the appearance of blog namedropping, what with Blair and Quick and The Command Post mentioned. The Jeff Jarvis ("he founded Entertainment Weekly"---poke, poke) bit mentioned Andrew Sullivan. Later, they say, "No one's making any money off blogging." I could not contain my outrage. "Andrew Sullivan is! He made eighty grand last year!" POKE!

Brown signed off with "I'm sure someone will be blogging this. In about a minute."

I leapt up off the couch. "That's right dear," said Niles. "Must make sure you are the first to---no, no, don't stop to go to the bathroom! Someone will post ahead of you!" But it would have been futile. The Command Post, linked above, plus Meryl Yourish plus Jeff Jarvis were much faster on the draw. In fact, Jarvis says Elizabeth Osder used to work for him, and has changed her mind about blogs. In this Wired article from three scant months ago, she said:

"Bloggers are navel-gazers," said Elizabeth Osder, a visiting professor at The University of Southern California's School of Journalism. "And they're about as interesting as friends who make you look at their scrap books."

She added, "There's an overfascination here with self-expression, with opinion. This is opinion without expertise, without resources, without reporting."

Hey, I put a lot of work into those scrapbooks!

Seriously, if you look through the "recently updated" list on the Blogger site, you will find a lot of diary-type, navel-gazing blogs. But I am compelled to point out that reporters frequently have very little expertise on the topics they work on, as anyone who has seen the remains of their professional work after it's been through the media mill can attest.

In fact, the reason I started this blog is to have a place to vent at the media. My main bugbear is thumb-sucking commentary writers who seem to be channeling a parallel universe, and wailing about what that means for our society. You don't need much expertise to be Maureen Dowd, say, or to write basically anything that turns up in the Sydney Morning Herald. And the "expertise" of the straight reporters doesn't save them from looking like complete idiots on occasion, either. They just ignore their mistakes and carry on.