Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Right-Wing Bloggers Exposed?

Deacon at Powerline notes a truly bizarre article in the American Prospect today. I’d summarize the gist of it briefly, but that would be a difficult thing to do. In general, it's about bloggers. It rambles along in heated fashion, but the revelations the writer seems to find shocking are things almost anyone else would consider extremely obvious.

One point Deacon takes personal umbrage at is where the article attempts to “expose” some conservative bloggers, Powerline among them, as … and here is where it gets difficult. As what exactly? I would like to say she offers some biographical information about Powerline’s contributors, but she does it in a style that suggests she believes it has some bearing on… and again we’re stuck. On what, exactly?

Is it news that bloggers possess partisan biases? News to whom? We’re not only not hiding that, it’s one of the central organizing factors in the blogosphere. Is it news that bloggers engage in politics in their personal lives? That’s how citizens participate in democracy in our country. Is it news that some bloggers were writing in other mediums before they had blogs? Again, news to whom?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the final paragraph on the article summarizes what the heck this article is supposed to be about. Let’s walk through it a bit at a time:

“But unlike traditional news outlets, right-wing blogs…”

The writer here is a partisan lefty, so her concern about partisan right-wing blogs seems to have a pretty simple motivation. If she truly thinks these observations only apply to the right, she’s a nutty moonbat, but even then we can accept that and move on. Let’s get to some of the … observations? Accusations? Still not clear:

“…blogs openly shill, fund raise, plot, and organize massive activist campaigns on behalf of partisan institutions and constituencies”

Run that language through a hyperbole-filter and we’re left with essentially this: “Bloggers participate in politics.” So far so good.

Then we get this:

“they also increasingly provide cover for professional operatives to conduct traditional politics by other means -- including campaigning against the established media”

“Provide cover” is a tricky phrase. It sounds sinister, but can anyone tell what exactly this means? Seems some “professional operatives,” another tricky, sinister, but ultimately empty phrase, also might use blogs. And they might criticize the traditional media. Yikes! Or rather. Duh.

We’ll take a little sanity break now. Everyone holding up okay? We’re almost done, and so far we’ve established that some bloggers are politically active, including some who work in politics, and some even criticize the traditional media. Where is the story here? Still not clear. Maybe the next bit will clear that up for us:

“instead of taking these bloggers for the political activists they are, all too often the established press has accepted their claims of being a new form of journalism”

I think we’re onto something finally. The writer is an idiot. She thinks something cannot be a “new form of journalism” unless it looks exactly like the old form of journalism. Had she bothered to ask, any number of bloggers could have told her that bias and partisanship are absolutely part of the blogosphere. That’s not a secret. The difference between bloggers and the “established press” is that bloggers admit it.

And then we come to the very end, and find perhaps the most telling statement of all:

“This will have to change -- or it will prove serious journalism’s undoing.”

Not sure where the American Prospect has been, but the “undoing” of “serious” (i.e. old) journalism has been a pretty big story for the past year or so. But in any case, it’s overblown. “Serious journalism” isn’t going away, no matter how many partisans decide they like writing also. It's all about finding an audience - same as it ever was. Only the medium has changed.

To the extent good traditional journalism is performed, the blogosphere is simply another medium for broadcasting it. What this writer apparently doesn’t like is that other things can be broadcast too. In effect, everyone now has a printing press. If they don’t like the way the “established press” is reporting something, they can report it differently themselves. This is scary, why?

Well it’s scary to two kinds of people: Those who have tremendous self-interest and/or investment in the old media model, and those who rely on the more monopolistic, “few-presses” model of the traditional press, for whatever reason.

Not sure which perspective this article was written from. Perhaps a bit of both. But despite devoting 3,395 words to the topic, all it amounts to is someone who suddenly woke up to the blogosphere and just realized some of the implications… implications the rest of us have been talking about for the past couple of years rather openly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently TAP's writer is not only unaware of recent history, she has no clue as to how openly partisan journalism used to be in this country--and how it is still that way to some extent in other countries.

In other words, if blogging is partisan journalism upsetting the allegedly pure and objective journalism we have today, then it's only taking us back in American history. In other words, it's nothing new at all.

1:17 PM  
Blogger aelfheld said...

My question is where can we find "good traditional journalism" being performed?

Blogs aren't a threat to the dominant media culture because they're producing new, contradictory, information; almost every blog out there is poring over the same information the big boys run with at 5:00pm, 6:00pm, and 10:00pm. Blogs are acting as fact-checkers, identifying missing information, and verifying the comprehensiveness of the news stories.

What has the lazy slobs in the dominant media up in arms (or at least upright in their La-Z-Boy's) is that blogs are showing them up as partisan hacks who can't be bothered to be accurate; Dan Rather's meltdown is a prime example of this; Jayson Blair's escapades at The New York Times is another.

Don't expect the outrage to diminish any time soon. These self-designated guardians of the information flow have been pricked in the tender spot of their self-regard; it's not reasonable to expect them to think highly of those who've punctured their pretensions.

6:44 PM  

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