Friday, December 22, 2006

The Mob Leans on Rago

Joseph Rago, the assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has written a piece that has come under some fire in the blogosphere called The Blog Mob.

For those of you with dyslexia, that was not a slur against Mog calling her a blob.

Mr. Rago makes some very good points in his article and for the most part, I agree with it. Essentially, he claims that the blogosphere rides on the back of the Mainstream Media (MSM). Without the reporting done by the MSM, there's not much to blog about.

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.
That's a pretty dismissive prose, but I would agree with the underlying concept. I've done a little bit of citizen journalism, like when I went to the San Diego Special Olympics or went to a nursing home along with Love on a Leash. The rest of the time my writing is pretty much reacting to what journalists have dug up.

The MSM aggregates and condenses the news into a single location. I know that if I visit the WSJ and my local paper, I've got most of the general information for the day. I'd hate to have to do that without them, even with synopsizing sites like Instapundit. It's just not realistic to think that you could replace the MSM with individual bloggers.

Mr. Rago goes wrong when he dismisses our news analysis. Yes, much of the blogosphere is chest-beating nonsense. Some of it, however, is expert commentary and analysis. I have a combination of skills and knowledge that I can guarantee you is not found on the payroll of the WSJ. I chose not to be a journalist and because of that choice, I pursued other areas of learning. While my writing may not be as polished as Mr. Rago's compatriots, my analysis in my areas of expertise is far more sophisticated.

That's not a debatable point. It simply is. If you want a better example of this than me, take a look at Steven den Beste. His knowledge of practical engineering applied to current topics, such as alternative sources of energy, is unequaled in the MSM.

What Mr. Rago is missing is that Joseph Conrad was dead wrong.

If the blogs have enthusiastically endorsed Joseph Conrad's judgment of newspapering -- "written by fools to be read by imbeciles" -- they have also demonstrated a remarkable ecumenicalism in filling out that same role themselves.
We are most certainly not imbeciles. On nearly any subject that journalists write about, there's a group of us who know far more than they do. It's the dismissive air of journalists like Mr. Rago that drives us all crazy.

We need the MSM. Their reporting and summarizing gives us a starting point to apply our knowledge and expertise. We can just do without the air of superiority. What the journalists need to realize is that the blogosphere gives voice to what's been there all along. A knowledgeable readership that has a lot to contribute after the journalists have laid the foundation.

Others who have blogged about this include Spacey Gracey, BlogNewsWatch and B2B Insight.

1 comment:

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

Thanks for the linkage! All I want for Christmas is more elitist, unfair redolance. Meow.