It must be blog hunting season this week, with two spirited takedown appearing in as many days. First we had one in Slate, and now we have a longer and considerably … uh, longer one in the Financial Times. Written by the Dickensian-named Trevor Butterworth (wasn’t he a lawyer in Bleak House?), the piece’s basic arguments are these:
- Most bloggers don’t make much (any) money
- Most blog posts are forgettable
- Most blogs over-indulge in opinioneering
- There is too much hyperbole about blogging
- Blogs aren’t going to destroy traditional media
To paraphrase an old Doonesbury strip, “Guilty, guilty, guilty”, but so what? You could say the first three things about most journalism. And as to the fourth … well, welcome to the 21st century. Finally, as to the fifth, new media modes don’t destroy old ones, and people who make those arguments are indulging in false dichotomies. And people who take those false dichotomies seriously and then waste effort criticizing them, well … they should collect stamps or maybe begin train-spotting, something better suited to their fussbudget tendencies.
Blogs and niche publishing are what they are — in my case a notebook, a place to share things I would otherwise email to friends, and a place to hone writing and arguments — but refuting the non-imminent death of journalism is not worth Butterworth’s sweaty and jejeune piece with its “look at me” recitation of the history of journalism.
I realize that a foolish consistency is the bugbear of the traditional media (and poseur academics), so I hesitate to point this out, but Trevor the Takedown Artist is defending himself on a blog, and also apparently contributes to & helps run a partially blog-based service that critiques blogs and the media in general.
Irony just refuses to take a holiday, doesn’t it.
[Update] And the N.Y. Times has joined in today, although Dan Mitchell’s critical comments there on blogs are considerably more nuanced. He rightly points out that blogs don’t present a real threat to traditional media, but specialty publications are another matter.