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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
When Newspaper Reporters Write in Gross Generalities
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:42 am

David Carr has an odd column in the NYT about Gawker and some crime story I am unaware of: When Bloggers Joke About the Unfunny.

I can’t disagree with the basic criticism of the facts presented-this doesn’t seem like the kind of thing to make jokes about, but gee whiz, it’s Gawker. To generalized in any way about blogs via Gakwer is to generalize about print media from Page Six.

Jeff Jarvis, quoted in the story, has some interesting back story and analysis of the piece itself here.

The degree to which Carr inserts all the basic MSM criticisms of blogs into this column is remarkable.

  • There’s the “but blogs aren’t permanent like print” argument:

    But because blogs can be amended or erased, the people who write them tend not to be held to account.

    First off, I have been reading blogs quite steadily for over two and a half years and have witnessed practically no erasure to avoid embarrassment. Indeed, bloggers tend to be pack-rats when it comes to their words, keeping all them, sometimes perhaps when they shouldn’t have (not to mention Google caches and the fact that other bloggers have a tendency to take screen captures and such if something is especially noteworthy).

    But second, and more importantly, an error made on “permanent” newsprint is usually forgotten by the next day. As I have noted before, bloggers tend to go back and made visible, lasting corrections to their errors-blog errors, especially big ones, are usually published ont he front page. The NYT doesn’t go back and fix the Lexis/Nexis archives of their stuff0they just print correction, if they even do that, in a place in the paper where no one looks.

    Further: make a serious error (or a not so serious one) as a blogger and see how quickly you are corrected.

  • The above quote also contains the: “you don’t have editors” argument.

    Look, I’d love someone to come and double-check my spelling and grammar, and I will confess to the fact that I typically am quick about my blogging. However, as noted above, to state that bloggers, especially ones with any kind of audience at all, aren’t held accountable is ludicrous. It is especially ludicrous coming from an newspaper that employed Jasyon Blair and Judith Miller.

  • And, of course, there’s the “you aren’t real journalists” argument:
    A generation of Web writers - many of them excellent and genuinely hilarious - sees the world and its travails through a hail of nasty e-mail messages, tips and other blogs. That’s a different job than leaving the computer screen to interview the mother of an eight-year-old who has been run over by a car. Ms. Coen of Gawker and some of her fellow bloggers are fond off pointing out that they are not reporters, which explains everything and excuses nothing.

    This strikes me as MSM insecurity coming through. Most bloggers don’t claim to be reporters (and many who do have an inflated view of themselves). Mostly we are commentators (ironically, that is what Carr is doing here: commenting). Also, the Gawker stuff wasn’t sold as first-person reporting. As such, the Gawker thing really appears to have been nothing more than a pretense to slam blogs, even given Carr’s proviso at the end of the sentence.

    Indeed, how is Carr’s column really any different than a blog post? The reporting in the story consists of him reading news stories and a blog and this generates his essay. Sounds pretty bloggy to me…

As a side note: is it just me, or this all a pretty NYC-centric story to begin with?

Filed under: Blogging, Criminal Justice, MSM, The Press | |Send TrackBack

1 Comment »

  1. Bloggers are a prime example of a disruptive technology. Much cheaper than the established competition, but with extremely narrow utility in the early years. As blogs get better they will continue to take functionality from mainstream sources — just as satellite news took functionality from the network evening news and the PC took functionality from larger computers.

    Right now blogs are in 3 general categories — specialists that cover a facet of the world that few media companies can afford to cover, those who digest and pontificate on the days news with quick opinions (this site, among others) and those that try to lead opinions in a certain direction (company in house blogs, politicians, also partisans like RedState and DKos). All are areas that today’s papers don’t do well. Where the papers don’t do things well they will continue to lose “eyeball time” to blogs.

    I don’t doubt that every criticism of listed of blogs is true to one extent or another. But if people don’t care about these distinctions — then why are they an issue? Which may be the crux of the issue — people care less about proper word choice than they do about speed of response. The market at work — and that’s hard for the NYT to fix.

    Comment by Buckland — Tuesday, November 15, 2005 @ 10:24 am

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