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Sunday, April 23, 2006
 
Blog Humbug?

Johnathon V. Last pops up with a very negative article on blogs and bloggers. And I think he makes some excellent points.

But the biggest evil of blogs is that first flaw, blogging's original sin: the discounting of news-gathering in favor of news analysis. Bloggers are forever telling us how easy journalism is, yet very few of them have ever really practiced it. Sure, they may have written opinion pieces that compare favorably to the work of Molly Ivins or Ann Coulter, but opinion writing is a tiny - and let's be honest, inconsequential - corner of the journalism world. Real journalism - the practice of adding to the store of public knowledge by reporting news - is a difficult, thankless, and often unpleasant task. Bloggers want no part of it. Everyone wants E.J. Dionne's job; no one wants to be Michael Dobbs.

That's mostly true. I do see some occasional bloggers doing investigative work, but it's hard. The posts I did on the Abramoff story took hours and hours of research and spreadsheet analysis. Yeah, it was worth it to get a correction out of the American Prospect and Paul Krugman.

This part I disagree with:

Another worry is that, as a medium, the blog does not value well-crafted writing. Except for Mark Steyn and James Lileks, it's hard to pick out even three beautiful writers from the millions of bloggers.

There are lots and lots of fine writers out there; maybe not at the Steyn/Lileks level (that is setting the bar rather high). Yes, we all do quick hits and tend not to agonize over le mot juste, as Flaubert would put it, but we also do a lot of writing, which eventually makes us all better writers.
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