Monday, July 14, 2003

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Two takes on blogs

Kathleen Parker takes to the Blogosphere:

I'm not an expert on blogging, but I am a fan. As a regular visitor to a dozen or so news and opinion blogs, I'm riveted by the implications for my profession. Bloggers are making life interesting for reluctant mainstreamers like myself and for the public, whose access to information until now has been relatively controlled by traditional media.

I say "reluctant mainstreamer" because what I once loved about journalism went missing some time ago and seems to have resurfaced as the driving force of the blogosphere: a high-spirited, irreverent, swashbuckling, lances-to-the-ready assault on the status quo. While mainstream journalists are tucked inside their newsroom cubicles deciphering management's latest "tidy desk" memo, bloggers are building bonfires and handing out virtual leaflets along America's Information Highway....

The best bloggers, who are generous in linking to one another -- alien behavior to journalists accustomed to careerist, shark-tank newsrooms -- are like smart, hip gunslingers come to make trouble for the local good ol' boys. The heat they pack includes an arsenal of intellectual artillery, crisp prose, sharp insights and a gimlet eye for mainstream media's flaws.

Fareed Zakaria's perspective is similar, if the language is less laudatory. From p. 254 of The Future of Freedom:

In the world of journalism, the personal Web site ("blog") was hailed as the killer of the traditional media. In fact it has become something quite different. Far from replacing newspapers and magazines, the best blogs -- and the best are very clever -- have become guides to them, pointing to unusual sources and commenting on familiar ones. They have become the new mediators for the informed public. Although the creators of blogs think of themselves as radical democrats, they are in fact a new Tocquevillean elite.

This strikes me as essentially correct. Most blogs, most of the time, do not generate news -- and it's not always a good thing when they claim to have new info. What most blogs excel at is the sifting, sorting, and framing of information that's already in the public domain.

The best blogs do this with rigor, wit, and alacrity. The rest of us just use long quotes as a substitute.

posted by Dan on 07.14.03 at 04:55 PM