Friday, January 28, 2005

Thoughts on Blogging for Kyle

My old friend Kyle, in the midst of some criticism about my post on the memo posted at Radioblogger, offered some interesting comments about blogging.

"I've been trying to give your Blog and others a chance as an alternative to the MSM (Main Stream Media for those like me who don't intuitively know your blog-jargon") My take thus far is that it's mostly opinion and a bit a interesting/creative fact interpretation/gathering. You seem enamored with its "inevitable" evolution into the best way to get ones news. If this is an accurate assessment of your blog (and others), don't you feel an onus to be more deligent when memos (or other dubious bits of evidence) surface? Why is it "whistling past graveyards" to call attention to this gaff? Why respond as you did? My guess is that you just want to get onto the next article or issue.

I get that you have tremendous passion for this and other topics, but why go low road at all? If you're gonna be more than an intelligent, witty guy who drinks wine and writes well, be a tad more deliberate. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of being taken as seriously as Jon Stewart."

Interesting stuff in there. I'll leave Kyle's challenges regarding the specific memo in question confined to that thread, and tackle to more general comments regarding the future of blogging here.

Kyle is a smart guy, and not exclusively because he has the good taste to read Bogus Gold. He's skeptical, but gives new things a fair try and evaluates with an independent mind. Couldn't ask for more.

But he makes a few assumptions I would not agree with, and I call them out because I suspect they're assumptions many others new to the blogosphere will make as well.

Let's take the first one: blogs as an alternative to the MSM. This seems dangerously close to the exagerrated position that the MSM will fade away and blogs will replace them. I don't agree. I think blogs will transform the way the MSM operates. I think there is an interesting and in some cases shocking transition in the way MSM approaches reporting forced by the activity of the blogosphere. But they won't go away to be replaced entirely by blogs. I'm more of a "fusion" believer than a "replacement" guy.

That leads to this point: "My take thus far is that it's mostly opinion and a bit a interesting/creative fact interpretation/gathering. You seem enamored with its "inevitable" evolution into the best way to get ones news."

Depends on what that means. Very few blogs I know perform original reporting. The closest I've come was when live-blogging some event, or conducting an interview, and neither is terribly frequent. Most blogs I read are indeed about commentary. But there are important distinctions even within the commentary sphere. Some are about sarcasm, some more issue oriented, and others explicitly partisan.

My blog, for example, is intentionally eclectic. This isn't a "hard news all the time" blog. Yet that's not to say the blogosphere doesn't occupy that role. One mustn't confuse the medium with the message. I write a blog. So does Captain Ed. So does Michele Catalano. So does Varifrank. None of us approach it quite the same way. We're not even trying to do so. Ed is more of your hard news guy. Varifrank is your weekly magazine essayist. I have no easy categories for what Michele or I are doing, but it's definitely something else.

Confusing a space the blogosphere can occupy with the role of the entire blogosphere is like assuming paper printed with ink can fill only one role.

That being said, to the extent Kyle thinks news items I report aren't trustworthy provides the answer to his own challenge. He won't continue to come here for that kind of information. And that's exactly the way it's supposed to work. The cost to "subscribe" here is free. Cost to leave is the same. No barrier for entry or exit. That's a kind of fluidity the MSM can scarcely conceive, and their current economic models aren't built to handle.

Then we come to this: "If you're gonna be more than an intelligent, witty guy who drinks wine and writes well, be a tad more deliberate. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of being taken as seriously as Jon Stewart."

Ah, but I'm not remotely convinced I wouldn't be satisfied being taken as seriously as Jon Stewart. I do know this blog is not about producing the next Edward R. Murrow. And Jon Stewart is certainly closer to the mark, if not spot-on. I would rather mock my political opponents than pull a Woodward and Bernstein on them. It's not just because it's easier (though it is), it's also something that I enjoy.

My blog is, first and foremost, a projection of my personality. I may not always be careful, but I'll be honest about my biases and why I might believe a particular item. I'll post in fits of pique at times. I'll post in fits of silliness at times. And now and then I'll post with careful research and seriousness. But I'll go one step further. I'll leave myself open to feedback and criticism, because that's part of what blogging is about too.


Blogger Kurt (aka Noodles) said...

Very well stated Doug. The whole "replace the MSM" idea is for those that take themselves entirely too seriously. The evolution of the "blend" of MSM and bloggers is in it's infancy and it remains to be seen where this whole thing goes. Truely quality blogs like Captain's Quarters or Powerline are rare, however I think an awful lot of bloggers have writing abilities that far exceed many in the MSM. But even if the best blogger devoted his/her life to the blog 24/7 it would not be possible to compete with the news gathering capabilities of the various news organizations. What remains to be seen is which MSM outlets decides to embrace the available talent and incorporate it into their delivery system. Those that do will probably do well, those that don't might suffer.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Doug,

Thanks for the eloquent reply. Apperently you still recall my fondness for debate. I dig your blog so far, but can't for the life of me figure how you work full time, have three kids, post your own articles and then have time to research who philibuster-ed who! Let alone read each entry in your blog-roll. Whew!

Never-the-less, I am glad to see you going for a more Jon Stewart-esque role. Frankly, I think there needs to be a RED presence in the fake-news genre. Unless of course the universal karmic balance dictactes one party in real power, one with a strangle hold on stand-up material and comedic parody.

By the way I have request for an ongoing series or an all encompassing article. Think about doing an appendix or glossary of all your and your fellow bloggers' idosyncratic jargon. Such as hat-tip, MSM, whistling past the graveyard and instapundant to name a few. Not that I cannot dig 'em myself, but I think you might be ammused to see how many article and web-pages use these words and phrases so often as to make searching for their root meanings tediuos. Also, another gift I want for christmas is your own personal lsit of favorite sites to find these things out yourself. For instance, the WIKIPEDIA is great, yet I'd never seen or heard of it before.


PS Any new developments on the authenticity of THE MEMO?

11:44 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks Kyle. The secret to the time thing is perpetual sleep deprivation, along with a touch of obsessive-compulsive behavior.

I like your idea for a future blog post. There certainly is a lot of jargon out there. And if anyone is qualified to put their own spin on what debatable terms mean, why not me?

And as for the memo - Radioblogger confirmed what I already assumed. He got the memo from Professor Eastman. A followup e-mail to said Professor has not yet been answered.

8:37 PM  

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