The concept of blogs has been on my mind lately and I do think a lot of the purpose and the impact of blogs. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that bloggers (and maybe the blogs, too) did help push the razor-thin Tester victory last month. However, for every solid, well-researched blog post, there are a number of others that amount to little more than incoherent rambling and debate that breaks down to “so and so said what? nuh-huh!” I am not picking on local blogs here (RightMontana is the exception, you are pleasure to pick on) but the larger blogosphere.
That said, I was blown away by Joseph Rago’s editorial in last week’s Wall Street Journal picking on the blog world because it apparently doesn’t meet the standards of professional journalism.
For me, his argument breaks down here:
Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . .
I do blog on occasion, so all the big words scare me. However, Mr. Rago’s argument would be better taken if only it didn’t also apply to the world of modern journalism. Certainly, major newspapers like the Wall Street Journal probably have discovered the use of spell check or hired those new-fangled “copy editors” but outside large cities, actual journalism is a little more hit-or-miss. I stopped purchasing newspapers locally long ago, partly because of the availability of news online and partly because I was tired of spotting a dozen spelling and grammar mistakes on the first page (and Pogie can tell you, my own grammar and spelling aren’t Pulitzer-prize quality). I tire of newspaper reporters that refuse to do more than reword press releases and cannot use modern tools like the Internet to fact check seemingly obvious mistakes or half-truths.
Amazingly, his criticisms seem to suggest that newspaper editorials demonstrate a quality that blogs do not. Perhaps he hasn’t picked up a copy of a Friday Independent Record for the stunning “thumbs up, thumbs down” editorial, which in a recent edition, went as far as saying “Thumbs down to a Dayton, Ohio, woman for allegedly turning an urban legend into a grim reality. The woman was arrested this week on suspicion of murdering her newborn daughter by microwaving the baby in an oven.” Thanks for that insight.
As we find our way around this new world of media, the last argument I find persuasive is that I should simply ignore blogs and other means of citizen media because of the relative quality. I have read more than my share of newspapers to know that the blog world is at least competitive.
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