Blogs and the Media: Kemmick and Crisp

I'm not a citizen journalist. I'm a teacher who is passionate about our political future. Sometimes, I think I even have something valuable to contribute to political discourse. I know that neither David nor Ed would deny me that right, but I hope that they'll take a look at some of the better work out on the web. It might restore their faith. :)
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Yes, it’s ironic that I am blogging about Ed Kemmick and David Crisp‘s blog posts about blogging, but it’s cool–we’re all bloggers. They raise some good points:
I absolutely agree that blogs tend to be very insular–and that is really unfortunate, but I think it more accurately reflects the political divide in our country right now. The web’s not alone in its failure to create legitimate spaces for civil political discourse; those places don’t really exist in the public sphere, or in the traditional media.

It’s also true that blogs encourage behavior that is less than civil by allowing anonymous comments. Take a look over at Montana’s new conservative blog, and you’ll see why they don’t work. I think it’s also true that there is little accountability for blog posts, but is there really accountability for the news media? The New York Times, like me, can only lose its audience if it loses the trust of its readership. (Last Check: 62,000,000 to 7). Of course, I can’t start a war, either.
It’s also damn true that bloggers think they are a lot more important than they are. Blogger Triumphalism sounds like a nice title for a book. 🙂

Those concessions aside, I think some of the argument against blogs is overstated. David writes:

Bloggers fact-check our asses, and we don’t like it. Some do, some of the time. But most media criticism on blogs is of such low and redundant quality that reading it is a waste of time.

I think you are reading the wrong blogs, man. Some of the things we write are snarky, mean-spirited, or even juvenile, but often (at least occasionally), they are right. I’ll stand by this criticism of Charles Johnson’s recent piece. Matt’s criticism of The Missoulian’s editorial the other day was dead on. Touchstone offered a thoughtful analysis of abortion rights. Montana, and the nation have some damn fine thinkers who don’t have access to the media on a regular basis, and they’re worth giving a read. Why? Because just as blogs are insular, so is the media. Why else would Larry Sabato be the ‘go to guy’ for 6 of 10 articles about political analysis? Why do the same pundits appear on the TV news shows every week? The insular, enclose world of the media and its subjects is one that needs to be examined, by thoughtful bloggers, reporters, and editors.
The bottom line is this. In the same way that it wouldn’t be fair to criticize the news media based on the Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, or Soviet Pravda, it’s not fair to condemn blogs based on the bottom of the barrel. Read the good stuff–right and left, and you will find nuanced, thoughtful analysis–and occasionally something that you hadn’t thought of before. Sure, I’d love to have more discussion and dialogue on the web, but if that can’t happen, I think it’s a damn sight better to have informed, articulate advocates forcing everyone to be more accountable.

I’m not a citizen journalist. I’m a teacher who is passionate about our political future. Sometimes, I think I even have something valuable to contribute to political discourse. I know that neither David nor Ed would deny me that right, but I hope that they’ll take a look at some of the better work out on the web. It might restore their faith. 🙂

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Jason MohrJasonDavid SummerlinEric CoobsWulfgar Recent comment authors
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David Crisp
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Actually, both this blog and Matt’s are among those on my list of blogs I read and respect. 4&20 Blackbirds isn’t on my list, but perhaps it should be. I’ll give it a look.

Ed Kemmick
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Ed Kemmick

Pogie: I agree with much of what you say, but it’s funny that the one excerpt you take from David’s piece is not answered by the examples you then give. He was talking about fact-checking. You and Matt Singer both wrote interesting pieces, but neither of them involved any fact checking. You were poking fun at Chuck’s objectivity and Matt was ridiculing the Missoulian’s editorial. I think what David means is that so many political blogs like to pretend they are “monitoring” the media, but in 99 percent of the cases they are merely on the prowl for perceived leftist… Read more »

touchstone
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Thanks for the plug! Tho’ I disagree with Pogie’s self-deprecation. I do admit some of my posts are written post-haste (ha ha) and lack the quality that would accompany contemplation and revision — but h*ll! I think there’s interesting stuff, too! Check the blog out, Mr. Crisp, see whatcha think…

Wulfgar
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Let’s us get somethin’ straight right here. It’s easy as hell to talk about good blogs and bad blogs … as long as one doesn’t define one from the other. That value judgement relies on an assumption that next to none of us wish to discuss. We share this with more main-stream media. The elephant in the living room is a basis of standards that we bloggers are as afraid of embrassing as David claims that the traditional media is. Fact checking? Is that what it’s really all about? No, not very much at all. David argues that much of… Read more »

Eric Coobs
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Anonymous posters are a necessary evil I think –

As I said over at my blog, I’d prefer not to have anonomous posts, but there are some people who won’t publish a legitimate belief, view, or judgement for fear of getting in trouble with spouses, employers, suppliers, customers, etc.

There are also trolls who simply want to stir the pot.

It’s not fair to say it doesn’t work though, I get a lot of traffic.

Thanks for reading –

David Summerlin
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David Summerlin

I’ve been thinking about anonymous comments, and for the most part it seems that if someone isn’t willing to put a name behind their comment, it isn’t worth reading. There is one obvious exception with whistle blowers, who deserve the protection of anonymity in bringing critical evidence to light. But we’re talking about blogs, where comment threads more closely resemble “letters to the editor.” “Anonymous” just doesn’t warrant a first look, let alone a second. Regarding good vs. bad blogs and media in general, it’s essentially the same can of worms you’d open talking about “good art” vs. “bad art.”… Read more »

Jason
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The concept of putting a name behind a post is also somewhat manufactured as well. Most things on the internet have a sense of anonymity to them because one can manufacture an identity and hide behind it. With the exception of Matt Singer, someone I knew in a past life, I really don’t know who any of you are other than I have a sense of your politics and thoughts through your blogs. With few exceptions, nobody really knows me or Don either other than what you see here. To be honest, however, I can’t really say I know the… Read more »

David Summerlin
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David Summerlin

Regarding manufactured identities: yes, but “identity” itself is something of an artificial construct. Even the large, hyper attended blogs tend to develop communities of regulars whose monikers might be initials or a “handle” or just a first name. It wouldn’t matter whether I used my birth name or “Xanthippe Virago.” “Jesus’ General” is an often sublime satire blog constructed around a manufactured character, “J.C. Christian, Patriot,” or “General, Sir!” One cannot create the same effect with “anonymous,” which goes against the spirit of the thing, I think.

Jason Mohr
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Jason Mohr

Pogie,

I’m confused. You assail Chuck Johnson for his post-Morrison column and yet accuse us all (MSM and bloggers) of being insular. Shouldn’t a reporter call outside observers, rather than give his own insular observations? Who would you have called?

Jason

Jason Mohr
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Jason Mohr

Pogie,

I need some pundits to comment on Lewis and Clark County and City of Helena affairs? Know any?

Jus’ kidding,

Jason

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