Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two From American Spectator

Have you been reading the blog over at American Spectator? It’s kind of like The Corner with comments. Anyway, here are two samples:

Saddam Celebration, Saddam Sadness

Shawn Macomber’s post ends with this response to a Kos poster’s assertion that “tries to take some of the air out of John Edwards announcing for president.”

We don’t need Saddam Hussein to disappear John Edwards, pal. We already got Obama and Hillary Clinton.

I will be surprised if the Edwards’ bid survives as long as it did in the last race. The man really does fade when the competition has personalities like Hillary and Obama instead of the charmless Kerry or John “The Screamer” Dean.

When Blogs Get it Wrong

In this response to the Rago/Hewitt conversation about “minimal reportage” in blogging, Philip Klein offers this thought:

The informal nature of blogs, the speed of the medium, and the limitless space allows bloggers to brainstorm, debate ideas, throw out theories, get feedback and make use of all the arcane specialized knowledge they may have. On the whole, this is a good thing. However, at the same time, the MSM, which has the ability and resources to do more hands on reporting, and which acts as a filter, deserves respect as well. Obviously, I blog myself and find blogs useful, but I also think some bloggers, ironically, have developed the same sense of elitism and self importance that they deride the MSM for.

Which seems about right to me.

When I read the Rago piece, I couldn’t help but think that, while I didn’t appreciate the way the information was presented, the man wasn’t that far off the mark in his thinking. Here are the truths about blogs in a really large sense: there is minimal actual reporting, they do lean heavily on the mainstream media to do the heavy lifting and then offer analysis, the quality of writing is wildly variable, there seems to be in inherent swarming instinct that kills rational conversation at times, and instant response does impair rigor.

Of course, I won’t spare traditional media some criticism: for example, while instant response impairs rigor, the luxury of time seems to be no guaranty of conscientiousness. Still, whatever complaints I have about traditional media don’t make Rago’s observations wrong. I applaud the writers and personalities that are elevating some sites into something closer to “real” journalism--that is, those sites with original reporting, critical analysis, and professional quality writing. Of the tens of thousands of active blogs, though, how many could honestly be said to occupy that arena?

I’m not proud to say--but I will admit--that ResurrectionSong sure as hell isn’t in that category. At least, not with any regularity. One well-written, intelligent piece every few months (which would probably be overestimating my “good” output by quite a bit) does not make me the equal of people who actually write and report for a living. Honest self-assessment requires that I admit this about myself.

Put it this way: of the blogs that you regularly read, how many of them would you be willing to pay for? I’m willing to bet that the majority of readers would only be willing to pay for the content of one or two (or none) of the blogs that they regularly visit. While some of us may have given up on daily newspapers (dead tree editions simply have a hard time competing with the near-real-time coverage offered online), almost every political junkie that I know has a magazine habit that they’d sell blood to support. When the conversation turns to value--as the Opinion Journal piece is really about--remember that you are willing to pay for what you value.

People come to ResurrectionSong less because they value me as a writer than they value me as a person. Almost all of my regular readers are people that I have met or people that I correspond with somewhat regularly. While I can’t find anything to confirm my suspicions, I imagine that most bloggers on an honest day would say the same.

I still wouldn’t mind kicking the guy in the shins for the “written by fools to be read by imbeciles” bit. Sharply kick him in the shins, in fact. Dammit, I am still proud of some of what I’ve written, some of the conversations that started on this site, and the fact that the people who have come through this site are most certainly not imbeciles. In fact, I wonder if Rago could hold his own in the passionate conversation of a Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash.

The insult was as unnecessary as it was unfounded. Rago had some good points to make, but it’s hard to get to that when the author has just called you either a fool or an imbecile.

None of which explains why I bristle about being called a fool when I just kept darling girl waiting for half an hour while I typed this up. That was probably an example of a bad decision, no? If you’ll excuse me, it’s off to an increasingly late breakfast.


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