Saturday, January 29, 2005

Practically Jack Shafer

I read this piece in Slate by Jack Shafer, didn't like it, but didn't think any more about it until Ezra Klein had a response much different than mine. Ezra took Shafer's message to be apt, that the blogosphere is clearly dependent on / secondary to / not-about-to-replace-anytime-soon the maintream news media. Ezra's a pretty big boy in the blog jungle, but he has a healthy sense of humility and unrealized promise about the blog format. But here's what I commented on Ezra's site:

Yes, the takedowns on [Jeff] Jarvis and [Dave] Winer were probably needed, but the main thing I took away from the Slate article was Jack Shafer's dunderheaded stance that "gee, I'm practically a blogger myself."

The biggest single problem with the corporate media, which Shafer doesn't even nod to, is the agenda hidden behind the mask of objectivity. The NYT et. al. are reliant on access to official power, they're addicted to perks, they enjoy salaries and lifestyles that push them more and more into Republican territory. The follow-up question to Jill Abramson should have been, "Does that $180 million come with strings attached?"

Blogs are not THE ANSWER, but they help to counteract the phony omniscience.

NYU's Jay Rosen, the sponsor of the blog conference that Shafer was reporting on, gets pissy with Shafer's piece as well, for different reasons. Me, I look at Rosen as a paper tiger himself, a la Winer and Jarvis: guys who are earning points in the "respectable" media world by hyping those crazy, transgressive bloggers. If the bloggers ever really stormed the Bastille, Rosen would need watch his own neck. Rosen was a big proponent a few years ago of the "public journalism" movement. I was never impressed; public journalism struck me as a policy of newspapers' polling their readers, then feeding back to them what they asked for.

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