Monday, August 14, 2006

All We Are Saying Is Give Blogs a Chance

One of my entries has been called "not pretty" over at Doc Searls Weblog, so I guess I can't really worry about things getting ugly then. For, it seems, poor Dr. (of Physiology) Laura, new scab columnist at the besieged Santa Barbara News-Press, has discovered the blogosphere doesn't appreciate her over-judgmental, hypocritical, gay-bashing ways. It must hurt the poor Dr. (of Physiology), as she opts to lash out, plus sort of plagiarize, but maybe that just means she reads Ann Coulter and wants to live up to Coulter's journalism ethics (I think my computer just giggled).

First, let's get the plagiarism out of the way, before we deal with the mendacity and stupidity: At one point Dr. (of Physiology) Laura writes (all of her quotes from the Doc Searls entry, as the N-P is behind the paywall I refuse to breach), "Some of these sites have had a big impact on politics, technology and journalism." In the next paragraph she does reference a New York Times article--her only source--but I guess you have to assume for a fledgling columnist, one source is better than none. She should learn to quote from sources by putting quotation marks around those quotes, however, for that line above is verbatim from the NYT article by Felicia R. Lee, who at that point is actually quoting one of her sources, a researcher at the Pew Internet & American Life Project that conducted the survey: "'Certainly, as a research center, we get asked about blogging,'" Ms. Amanda Lenhart said of the reason for the surveys. "'It was something igniting the American consciousness. Blogs were perceived as having a big impact on politics, technology and journalism. We wanted to go in and see what bloggers were doing.'"

Since Dr. (of Physiology) Laura is Miss Morality, I'm going to assume she's just a piss-poor journalist and not a thief.

As for the actual content of her anti-blogger rant, it opens with this ridiculousness: "Bloggers are folks with their own personal Web sites, which they can use for whatever end they please with impunity." She doesn't mention she writes for Wendy McCaw, who own her own personal newspaper, which she uses for whatever end she pleases with impunity. I wonder if my lowly site with its average of 75 hits a day, half of them looking for naked Monica Bellucci pictures, really has the same impact. Plus I don't moderate my comments, so anyone can reply to my entries. The News-Press, on the other hand, has been oddly devoid of critical letters to the editor bemoaning what has happened there the past month or so. So tell me who's afraid of a bit of negative response.

Of course Dr. (of Physiology) Laura goes on to warp her dislike of blogs (since they dislike her they must be bad) into her usual spiel about the ugliness of our me, me, me culture. She writes, "Some 37 percent of bloggers use them as personal journals to 'share' with others. I think that this compulsive public disclosure of usually, if not hopefully [sic], passing thoughts, emotions and impulsive behaviors indicates an exhibitionism spawned by so-called reality TV and bad behaviors of celebrities getting positive attention." First, that means 63% of blogs are doing something else, like maybe telling us what's really going on in the Middle East, or in DC, or LA. Second, the diary has an a centuries-old history, and who says Samuel Pepys might not have had a blog if the technology existed in the 1660s? Third, the personal essay has an even longer history, and who wouldn't have wanted to read the blog of a Montaigne or a Hazlitt or a Virginia Woolf?

But there's an even more important fourth--what Dr. (of Physiology) Laura suggests really means only certain people (those like Dr. Laura and Wendy McCaw) should have a public voice in this world. Doesn't she reralize that the web has democratized the means of publication, and alllowed those who might never publish to get their work out? Who says some anonymous person's daily life, truly examined, isn't as important as those lives we are constantly told are more fabulous than ours? At the least, hasn't this woman heard of Howard Zinn?

No, instead she quotes only part of a quote from that NYT article (it's so convenient to do all your reporting by repeating another working writer's quotes), comments by Wired's editor in chief Chris Anderson. The entirety of what he says is:

The finding that jumped out at me was the recognition that people are talking about the subjects that matter in their personal lives. It’s narrow, niche subjects. It’s a granularity of media that we in the commercial media could not scale down to. Niche media is ‘me’ media, and the blogosphere is the ultimate manifestation of that.

Guess what part Dr. Laura (of Physiology) quotes and how she spins that?

"Niche media is 'me' media, and the blogosphere is the ultimate manifestation of that," he said. That is all our society, and our city, need: more folks focused on themselves, esteeming themselves over respect for ideals and each other.

Oh please. Read some blogs and don't just read about them. Sure, blogs often focus in, but that doesn't necessarily mean focus on the bloggers themselves. Just think about the community of greyhound owners in the blogosphere, who are gaga about their dogs and hope that by sharing that enthusiasm they can save more dogs and maybe, someday, shutdown the cruelty of dog racing. That is pretty self-centered and narcissistic.

What our city of Santa Barbara needs is its daily newspaper back. Instead, it is run by a woman who esteems no one else and fails to respect the ethics of journalism or her fine staff that has tried to uphold those standards. Indeed here's a story from the San Jose Mercury News on Saturday:

The Society of Professional Journalists on Friday said it would give an ethics award to nine journalists who resigned from the Santa Barbara News-Press when they believed the paper's owner was meddling with editorial content.

"We pay tribute to the courage and principled sacrifice of these nine journalists, who opted to risk their livelihoods rather than remain in a position where they felt their journalistic ethics and professional credibility were being violated," SPJ President David Carlson said.


"SPJ traditionally steers clear of management-employee disputes," according to the statement. "Nevertheless, the society has concluded that the tumultuous events that led to the collective resignations at the Santa Barbara News-Press were precipitated by breaches in the newspaper's foremost ethical obligation --to its readers --and is proud to support those who have put ethical convictions about professional security."

Of course, it turns out that according to McCaw, this is just more evidence of the conspiracy to get her, for her response in the article is:

In the letter, McCaw denied inappropriately influencing editorial content. She also complained that SPJ investigators never sought more than a written statement from her. The allegations of ethical violations were one-sided and out of context, she wrote.

"We would urge you to carefully look at all the facts," wrote McCaw, who has previously said that the former employees had injected their personal opinions into the news coverage. "It is our belief that the SPJ is being used by this group to further their own personal and political agendas, and not as an expression of ethical principals."

Which reminds me of the old Daily Show line about how reality in Iraq is definitely anti-Bush.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be still, your bleeding heart! Or, short of that, watch my Wednesday show where I interview the esteemed Dr. Laura and we set the record STRAIGHT.

Stephen ColBear

5:48 PM  
Blogger DBD said...

This is, without a doubt, one of the best blog entries I've ever read. Thanks for expressing this all so thoroughly, thoughtfully, and clearly.

11:16 PM  
Blogger lolita said...

When does "doc meng" go?

3:15 PM  

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