Thursday, May 04, 2006

Blog Rage

Greg Sargent writes about the hositility to blogs and the constant dismissing of them based on their tone. It's true as he writes that it's really elite opinionshapers - pundits and those who aspire to be them - feel a degradation of their status (you mean anyone can have an opinion on important events of the day? and write about it? and people will read it? even if you're not as important as ME?). Greg's a bit less critical than I am, actually. I think we need to define the word meritocracy a bit more generously than we should in order to imagine that only the best rises to the stuff. Without significant barries to entry in the blog world (yes there's a first-mover advantage in terms of obtaining an audience but that tends to be greatly exaggerated) it's true that to be read you have to be popular, but we should remember that being popular doesn't necessarily require much merit. See Industry, Music and Pundit, Insta.

But the complaining about the "tone" of the blogosphere in broadbrush ways is silly. Except for four-letter words not allowed by the FCC, which I know most of these journalists have heard once or twice in their lives, most of the popular blogs are often tamer than what you'll find on popular political talk radio, which the mainstream press has studiously ignored for years. But, more importantly, who cares about tone?

When people in the media wish to criticize bloggers they should start naming names and start being specific. If we aren't important enough to be engaged specifically than ignore us. It's fair to talk about the blogosphere as a collective at times as it's fair to talk about the mainstream media as a collective at times, but complaining about the nasty tone of the whole party is just cheap and sloppy journalism.

The greater sin of Cohen today was implying that blog readers are balkanized into political camps and are therefore uninformed and stupid. That's one of the worst misconceptions of people who read blogs who are, after all, the people who are most interested in news and political debate - interested enough spend a more than healthy amount of time online keeping up to speed. Cohen shows contempt for the people most likely to know who he is and care about what he writes. Odd.