Yglesias Satirizes Hysterionics over Bloggers

Matthew Yglesias has a great satire on the hysterionics in the MSM about blogging:

The world, then, has recently been dangerously lacking in "-ofascist" (or perhaps O'Fascist, like in Ireland) threats. Thankfully, New Republic culture critic Lee Siegel has now uncovered the most insidious threat of all: Bloggers. "The blogosphere," he told us last week, "radiates democracy's dream of full participation" but is, in fact, "hard fascism with a Microsoft face." Some thought Siegel was engaging in a little ill-advised overstatement. But no. The bold truth-teller was all-too-serious, as he revealed in his follow-up post, "The Origins of Blogofascism" -- a work of Arendt-ian import, if not quite scale and scope.

As Siegel explained, if bloggers don't like something you write, they may respond with posts -- or emails -- expressing that disagreement stridently, much as Hitler (or, for that matter, the obscure but equally brutal Croatian ustashe) did. "Two other traits of fascism," Siegel writes, "are its hatred of the process of politics, and the knockabout origins of its adherents." The author puts on his Discerning Reporter hat to reveal that leading progressive blogger Markos Zuniga was, indeed, largely indifferent to politics, when he was nine. As for knockabout origins, suffice it to say that Zuniga used to live in El Salvador and went to law school . . . but never practiced law.

In short, there's an enemy out there who lurks. A grave and gathering threat to the republic -- indeed, to Western Civilization itself. The enemy is not, of course, precisely the same as previous totalitarian foes. While Communism and Nazism posed threats through control of powerful states, the blogofascist menace is, like its Islamofascist counterpart, more of a loose network of highly motivated individuals. The blogosphere itself is primarily organized around a cell structure, with any given node (or "website" to use the Pashto term) linked to a number of other nodes through a so-called "blog roll." The network is, however, capable of reconfiguring itself both through periodic revisions of the roll and through more transient links embedded in individual blog "posts." The posts themselves are encoded in hypertext markup language, making them difficult to decipher without a web browser or equivalent tool. Further deepening the dilemma, several of the largest and most sophisticated nodes have multiple authors, sometimes operating under pseudonyms.

I have a couple words for the MSM:

First, we are coming for you. The reason is that there is no area other than a major war that a guy in his skivvies can cover just as well as the entire New York Times staff (sorry Carl).

Second, MSMers always respond to that by saying "What about geopolitical events?" "What about the White House?" "What about international news?" What they miss is that the vast majority of news is not in fact news -- it is opinion packaged as news. Think of movie reviews or editorials or frankly science reviews. Lots of people are doing this for free and doing it just as well as the press experts. Further, when the news is in fact news, it is primarily local news. It doesn't require a journalism degree to report when the next Gnarls Barkley concert is. I will grant that I currently lack the capacity to go to cover Afghanistan. This will likely remain the purview of press organs. But if you remove editorializing from this coverage, journalist-required news becomes a relatively small fraction of the whole.

Science blogging is an excellent example of this. It is not like most science new staffs have access to papers that I don't. They may be able to get quotes I can't, but most people don't want quotes -- they want analysis. And qualification is a non-issue. I wish that most science journalists were experts in their fields -- most are not. But then again I am not an expert in global warming. Science is for everyone; if it is being done right it should be understood by everyone.

Third, critics are always saying that bloggers are angry and unqualified. Apparently the staff of the The Nation and The National Review get a pass. Both are angry, and I do not consider prior experience as a Congressional staffer adequate life experience to have a direct line to truth.

We are witnessing battles in a media revolution, but a media revolution that we are destined to win if for no other reason than you can't really outcompete someone who will do it for free.

And by the way...direct democracy!?...political participation!?...God, that would just suck...

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The reason is that there is no area other than a major war that a guy in his skivvies can cover just as well as the entire New York Times staff (sorry Carl).

Well, an MSM editor would probably have caught that poorly-written howler.

Let's check the core message ...

"...no area ... that a guy ... can cover just as well as the entire New York Times staff"

Hmmmm ...

By Scott Belyea (not verified) on 27 Jun 2006 #permalink