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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I think Eugene Kane is talking about me . . .

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a column by Eugene Kane about blogging:
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, has it made a sound? In a nutshell, that's what I think about most blogs.

The Internet is overrun with blogs. These personal Web sites are written by both amateur and professional journalists with an ax to grind or strong opinions they are dying to express. Many of them are read by only a small group of readers, sometimes just family or friends.

Despite the current hype over bloggers taking on the mainstream media--"MSM" to many bloggers--I believe there's little chance that blogging will replace traditional forms of reporting and commentary. At least, not in the near future.
Following that, Kane tsk-tsks over a local blogger who disagreed with--and slammed pretty good--one Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (I am waiting for Patrick McIlheran's new blog, which, with any luck, will be complaints about me.)

Belle, who is studying journamlism, and has worked for, as Kane says we call it, the "MSM," has already noted the all-too-common fact that the headline writer didn't read Kane's column, labeling it "Blogging gives everyone a voice." While I doubt Kane disagrees with that, he certainly doesn't seem excited about some people's voices being out there. He pretty clearly disses Jessica McBride (who seems excited about that) and summons the bravado to tell bloggers, "Bring it on." (He should be careful: The last most famous demand to "bring it on" lead to two years of dramatic and deadly insurgency in Iraq.)

And I have to say that I hate "MSM." Not in the sense that I am in some kind of crusade against popular news sources, but rather that the term "MSM" and "mainstream media" were developed by conservatives primarily to further their claims of indemic victimhood. "MSM" = "liberal media." And it's stupid: For one, the most pouplar bloggers have readerships many times higher than some newsweeklies and daily newspapers. The figures Kane cites for jsonline--the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's web presence--are 2 million visitors a month. DailyKos, by contrast, gets 15 or 16 million hits a month. For another, the most avid users of the term "MSM" are members of the "MSM." Charlie Sykes, for example, is an employee of the city's biggest media conglomerate and a highly-rated radio talk-show host, and he delights in complaining about that rotten "MSM." Rush Limbaugh, Mark Belling, Sean Hannity, and so on, all perhaps the very definition of mainstream, piss and moan about the "MSM." As I said, it's stupid. Stupid and a half.

But what really gets me about Kane--despite the irony of his pimping his own blog while dissing others'--is that I think he complains specifically about me:
It's my humble opinion that the best blogs--like mine at --don't rant and rave as much as refer readers to interesting stories and commentary from other sources.

Blogging is best when it's a clearinghouse for ideas rather than a long-winded exercise in self-congratulatory rhetoric.
I mean, if I cut the long-windedness and self-congratulation from my blog, all that would be left is the "Friday Random Ten" and an occasional lazy all-link post or two.

Look, I read blogs because I like the words and opinions of those bloggers, not because I'm looking for linky goodness. To me, bloggers are the "other sources" with "interesting stories." And if he can't see that, he'll remain stuck in his traditional-media (preferred term) world. I will be happy to bring it.

[Others are bringing it, too: See here and here to start.]

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