Sunday, August 19, 2007

O, for the days noone bloggers did liveth upon the earthe

And the journalists could send forthe their mighty words unchallenged and all were smote by the revelations therein.

Kagro X of Daily Kos speaketh to one such journalist:

Here's the trouble: "when the Internet was not yet a part of everyday life and bloggers did not exist."

Michael, there never was a time when bloggers did not exist.

There was a time, of course, when blogs did not exist. Because blogs are a specific kind of tool, an application of technology that once did not exist.

There was a time when the blogosphere did not exist. Because its existence, naturally, is dependent on the existence of blogs.

But there never was a time when bloggers did not exist. Because -- again -- bloggers are not an alien race who fell from the heavens on a meteorite. They are people. And in fact, they are the very people for whom journalists have always been writing, and for whom they always will write. We have always been here, and we have always been a vital part -- perhaps the most vital part -- of the journalistic equation. You just didn't count us because you couldn't hear us.

Can you hear us now?


We were always talking to you. Always talking about you. Always had the exact same things to say about you and your reporting that we're saying now. We just lacked the technology to make you aware of it. Maybe you liked it that way. Maybe you'd rather it had stayed that way. But it didn't, and no amount of elitist scorn is going to change that, just as it was never able to contain it in the past. The "blogger's" disdain for shoddy reporting (and truthfully, sometimes even for quality reporting -- I have to acknowledge that) has always existed and likely always will. Blogs are just the most effective tool we've yet found to plug that disdain into.

No journalist who fails to grasp this will ever be able to write insightfully about blogs, bloggers or the blogosphere. It can't be done. You can write, of course. No one can stop you. But you can't be right. You can't be right about bloggers until you acknowledge who they actually are.

Thus speaketh a mighty blogger!

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Update: whig of Cannablog brought to my attention Josh Marshall's piece where he finds he is criticized in an article in the Los Angeles Times:
For a variety of reasons I try to stay out of the debates over blogs as such, what they're good or bad at and the rest. But this morning I was alerted to an opinion column in the Los Angeles Times by Michael Skube, a journalism professor at Elon University. The sum of the piece is that the blogosphere is as rife with disputation as it is thin on information, or more specifically, reporting, writing that demands "time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance."

Now, fair enough. There's certainly no end of blog pontificating fueled by puffed-up self-assertion rather than facts. But Skube's piece reads with a vagueness that suggests he has less than a passing familiarity with the topic at issue. And I will confess to you that what really caught my attention was that in a column bewailing how blogs don't do any real reporting one of the four bloggers he mentioned was me.


Not long after I wrote I got a reply: "I didn't put your name into the piece and haven't spent any time on your site. So to that extent I'm happy to give you benefit of the doubt ..."

This seemed more than a little odd since, as I said, he certainly does use me as an example -- along with Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and Kos. So I followed up noting my surprise that he didn't seem to remember what he'd written in his own opinion column on the very day it appeared and that in any case it cut against his credibility somewhat that he wrote about sites he admits he'd never read.

To which I got this response: "I said I did not refer to you in the original. Your name was inserted late by an editor who perhaps thought I needed to cite more examples ... "

And this is from someone who teaches journalism?

Perhaps I'm naive. But it surprises me a great deal that a professor of journalism freely admits that he allows to appear under his own name claims about a publication he concedes he's never read.


Update 8/20: whig reminds me that both bloggers here are reacting to the same article by Michael Skube.

More updatiness:
Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake talks more about the journalist's condescension involving bloggers:

When Ellen Goodman wrote a piece in the Boston Globe about the dearth of women in the liberal blogosphere, I contacted her to challenge that assertion. She said that her failure to mention or quote even one single successful woman blogger was due to her “word limit.” In her article she also cited a study of the “90 top political blogs” and concluded from looking this over that in the liberal blogosphere men are more likely to link to men, but the fact is that the 90 top political blogs aren’t all liberal and include a large number of conservative blogs. I asked to see the research because I had serious questions about the methodology and the conclusions she reached. She told me to contact her again after Labor Day and she’d check to see if the researcher was comfortable being contacted.

If I say in a post that 61% of Americans think Congress shouldn’t fund the war without timetables, I link to the source of my information because my “peer editors” know that there’s a difference between a Washington Post poll or a Rassmussen poll or a Quinnipiac poll and they want to be able to look at the way that questions are phrased, the sampling and the methodology. I’d have my ass summarily handed to me in a bold and public fashion if I tried to fob off statistics with some obvious flaws that I based my entire thesis upon and then refused to produce them when asked.

I guess our “peer editors” are a bit more exacting than those at the Boston Globe.

The blogs that have gained traction are the ones who report facts, do research, quote correctly, cite references, the very things people are hungry for. The mainstream media hasn't yet figured out that people are leaving their product in droves BECAUSE facts were incorrect, research was badly done, quotes were out of context, and no references were given. Catapulting Bush's propaganda makes the end result shit and no one in their right mind will buy it. It's strange how most Americans can tell.


Anonymous said...

See also: Josh Marshall.

ellroon said...

Lol, thanks, whig! Will update.

Anonymous said...

Both Kagro X and Josh Marshall are responding to the same article by Michael Skube, I think.

ellroon said...

You are right, thanks.

hipparchia said...

The mainstream media hasn't yet figured out that people are leaving their product in droves BECAUSE facts were incorrect, research was badly done, quotes were out of context, and no references were given.


thanks for this post, btw. the blogosphere vs msm smackdown has long been a pet peeve of mine.

ellroon said...

I used to be a voracious reader of the Los Angeles Times and watcher of CNN etc. When CNN was sold, it lost its way and I left it.

Early on, the Times was parroting stuff from the White House that was so obviously propaganda the articles could not be called journalism. I found myself on the Net looking for the truth and found this wonderful progressive community.

Truth was being reported, facts could see the sites the information was pulled from. You were allowed to agree or disagree. Everyone cared passionately about what was happening to our country. The blogosphere is alive with discussion, friendship, humor, action.

The mainstream media is choking itself off and will die unless they figure out its readers and clients want the truth and can tell if what is being reported is propaganda or not. The blogosphere lets us talk back to them and demand the truth ... loudly... and they are just not used to it.

Their pedestal is gone and we are unimpressed.