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Joseph Rago’s Pompous, Prolix Piece on Blogs

John on December 20, 2006 at 11:30 am

Joseph Rago musters and blusters the magisterial authority of the press in this piece attacking blogs:

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren’t much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . .

How does one persuade a highly paid editor that he is a pompous, prolix prick? I don’t know, but I did my best. Time will tell if they post my response:

Joseph Rago’s article demonstrates that he fundamentally doesn’t get it. There are many ways one can characterize blogs and bloggers; the one thing that one can not do is lump them together and make blanket pronouncements about their quality, tone and style. To do so is to miss the trees for the forest.

Describing bloggers as a mob makes about as much sense as describing a typical university as a “higher education mob.” It’s not that there aren’t some ways in which this is true, it’s just that starting from this perspective you’re guaranteed to miss the most important aspect of what the thing is.

There is terrific diversity of subject, style and, frankly, talent among bloggers. Some blogs are indeed little better than juvenile rants; others are written with transparency, honesty, humor and, yes, even irony. Bloggers are doctors, lawyers, theologians, scientists, soldiers, etc. Glenn Reynolds has described them as an Army of Davids. That’s much closer to the truth. Only a negligent (or jaundiced) observer could look at the blogosphere and see an undifferentiated mob.

Blogs are a web based university of interests and information, which is fortunate since editors like Joeseph Rago are desperately in need of an education.

And just to make the case for my own blog (in case Mr. Rago drops by) you can find an example of reportage here. An example of humor here. An example of irony here. And an example of news analysis not found anywhere else here.

[HT: SeeDubya @ JunkYardBlog]

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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