Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Some additional thoughts on Dvorak's recent column on bloggin
Published on December 4, 2003 By Draginol In Blogging

If you read my article responding to Dvorak's column on blogging, you can tell I'm a bit annoyed with it. Having had a day to think about it and lots of email on the topic, I've narrowed down specifically why his column bugs me so much:

  1. It's based on a number of false premises. Specifically, he lumps all blogs together as if every person on the net is aiming to be a quasi-journalist. It's sloppy research which really bugs me when it's in the pages of PC Magazine.
  2. I like Dvorak. I know he's off sometimes but I really respect him a great deal. So seeing him, well, blow it on something I'm familiar with makes me question some of the things he says when I'm not as familiar with the topic which is a bit of a let down.
  3. Condescension. I don't like someone treating me like I'm a sucker. To imply that bloggers are a bunch of chumps for not realizing how few people read most blogs is insulting. Of course we know. Personal web pages have existed for a decade. I've had a home page for nearly that long. The difference is purely that now there are tools that make it much easier to update the pages with daily news and such.
  4. It's revealing. That is, such a hard sell on readers that blogs are a passing fad makes me wonder if there's more to it.

Let's get to the brass tacks. What he's referring to is indie journalism. Most indie journalism comes in blog form.  While Glenn Reynolds didn't think that Dvorak was talking about him, to me it's pretty obvious - top blogger now writing MSNBC articles, who else fits that profile? http://www.glennreynolds.com takes you to MSNBC.  People like Reynolds, Sullivan, Lileks and others may be "professional" writers but what they write about is definitely different than what most people hear about.

For example, anyone who checks out Right Wing News, or Little Green Footballs, or Steven Den Beste's pages can find out things that they haven't heard about from "big media".  It is up to each individual to do analysis on the source and determine what they think is true and what is suspect.  While Bill O'Reilly may argue that you can't trust any of this "Internet stuff" and Dvorak thinks everything worthwhile is already "co-opted", the fact is, the traditional forms of media are just as suspect in many cases. I've been in the press enough times and up close enough to know how sloppy it is often done. And I've seen press releases from lobby groups taken as fact and regurgitated. Remember the "millions" of homeless stories we used to hear about? That number was made up. Maybe there are millions homeless people (I doubt it) but when the number was being thrown around, it hadn't been researched one iota.  Or the infamous examples of stories that talk about how much domestic violence there is that turned out to have been fabricated. In other words, the quality of news on Instapundit or other "top blogs" is right up there with what you can expect from NBC or CBS or ABC and certainly CNN (which was recently outed for bending the news in favor of Saddam for the past decade in exchange for getting to stay in Iraq. Oh yea, big media is to be trusted...).

The numbers though really speak for themselves. I've seen them first hand. Since we opened up JoeUser.com for other people to have blogs, we've gotten thousands of new bloggers just here.  The Alexa ranking of this site is now in the top 17,000 sites. People clearly are interested in hearing the views of other people.


Comments
on Dec 05, 2003
To me it is akin to a professional golfer writing a column about all those amateur hacks that go out on the weekend, do poorly and have no one show up to watch. Is amateur golf doomed? The first word the springs to mind is 'projection'. When you consider the flagging magazine industry living in fear of sharp, minute-by-minute, online alternatives, it's a predictable point of view. If you started counting free online alternatives to PC magazine, you'd run out of fingers quick.

Add to that, hearing *anyone* with an IQ over 50 acting shocked that journalistic opinion can be 'exploited' under the table by outside parties is, well, insane. Millions of people watch Chris Matthews or Bill O'Reilly sneer their way through current events without losing faith in televised journalism, so I doubt those same people would flee the internet in outrage when some conflicts-of-interest arise.
on Dec 05, 2003
I gave up on Dvorak years ago, when I read his column in PC MAgazine explaining that any restaurant which didn't know better than you what dressing to put on your salad was merely an eatery. His position regarding blogs is another manifestation of the same elitism.
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