Some old-fashioned blogging in the link-and-comment style

Sep.
6

Bring back the fun. Scott Rosenberg — who literally wrote the book on it — says blogging is enjoying something of a revival lately.

Nicholas Carr senses a mood of exhaustion with what he calls Big Internet.

By Big Internet, I mean the platform- and plantation-based internet, the one centered around giants like Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and Apple. Maybe these companies were insurgents at one point, but now they’re fat and bland and obsessed with expanding or defending their empires. They’ve become the Henry VIIIs of the web. And it’s starting to feel a little gross to be in their presence.

“Bring back personal blogs. Bring back RSS. Bring back the fun. Screw Big Internet,” Carr writes. In a follow-up post, Rosenberg speculates that as “waves of smart people hit the limits of their frustration with Twitter and Facebook, many will look around and realize, hey, this blogging thing still makes a great deal of sense.”

After this episode — Twitter flirting with a filtered feed — I am feeling that way myself. One good thing about a revival, as against a trend: fewer journalists rushing to declare the revival “over.”

Hit piece bombs. Almost everyone who has tried to “take down” Glenn Greenwald, as opposed to just criticizing him, has wound up looking bad in front of his journalistic colleagues. Memorable examples include David Gregory and Andrew Ross Sorkin. This week Politico published an embarrassing attempt at a take down by Michael Hirsh. Has Greenwald, Inc. Peaked?

“Politico Magazine’s Michael Hirsh has written a hit piece on Glenn Greenwald. It is terrible,” wrote the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple. For example, the headline “signals that Hirsh doesn’t want to stand behind his convictions but just wants to trial-balloon them for clicks.” Gawker’s Tom Scocca explained what Politico was up to:

Under the rules of the buzz process, once a person or entity—Mike Huckabee, The Help, the panoptical security state—has been established as the subject of sustained public attention, the eventual next step is to inform the public that the public is no longer interested. This generates new attention. Ups and downs.

Just as Politico wants to be the first to say something is a trend, it wants to be first to notice what’s “over.” This is rather different from trying to figure out what’s actually going on. (Disclosure.)

You cannot be serious. I’ve been marveling at this all week. On Sep. 1, Frank Bruni, who occupies expensive real estate on the op-ed page of the New York Times for no reason I can detect, dropped on us a column claiming that Obama was weak in responding to the threat from ISIS. Nothing remarkable in that; dozens of other columnists were saying the same thing. But watch:

He’s adopted a strange language of self-effacement, with notes of defeatism, reminding us that “America, as the most powerful country on earth, still does not control everything”; that we must be content at times with singles and doubles in lieu of home runs; that not doing stupid stuff is its own accomplishment.

This is all true. It’s in tune with our awareness of our limits. And it reflects a prudent disinclination to repeat past mistakes and overreach.

But that doesn’t make it the right message for the world’s lone superpower (whether we like it or not) to articulate and disseminate. That doesn’t make it savvy, constructive P.R.

Dig it: Obama is speaking truthfully, treating us as adults, and being prudent, but there’s a problem because Bruni wants better P.R. Is this what we need journalists for? He quotes two other journalists, Karen DeYoung and Dan Balz of the Washington Post, making the same point. Obama, they said, was speaking candidly but in no way projected “an image of presidential resolve or decisiveness.”

This style of analysis is so common among American journalists that it passed by without comment. As your blogger, I cannot allow that. Worrying about image projection and the degree of savviness in the Administration’s P.R., asking “Where are your infantilization skills, Mr. President?”— these are signs of a press corps that can be deeply unserious about international politics.

And there’s another problem. Bruni’s column, which couldn’t have taken more than 45 minutes to produce, is a sign that people at the New York Times still don’t get it. By “it” I mean the economic age they are living through. The value added for this kind of writing is essentially zero. It does not bring a new perspective. It does not add any previously unknown facts. There is nothing distinctive in the analysis. It is all professional reflex (which is why I wrote about it.) The New York Times thinks it can still afford commodity opinion on its op-ed page. That is incorrect.

9 Comments

  1. Add yet Robert Scoble, a true pioneer of blogging, recently abandoned his blog Scobleizer.
    Is Robert Scoble Still A Blogger? -SVW

  2. Tom says:

    With respect to “deeply unserious,” we are talking about a herd of people who, at every international development, rushes en masse to faithfully record the reaction of John McCain and Lindsay Graham, and then Dick and Liz Cheney. The the rest of the failed bushies. It’s hard to take that kind of nonsense seriously.

    In fact, I can’t think of a single “journalist” of the bigfoot model that is worth listening to or reading. Not one.

    About to get worse, evidently, with the new, even righter-leaning-than-ever MTP. Can’t wait to watch all of us substance-starved ex-watchers flock back in droves to watch Luke Russert and Joe Scarborough. ::eyeroll::

    So sure: let’s bring back some more old-fashioned blogging, with full sentences and paragraphs and that kind of stuff. Though it never really went away. Hope they do it more on Sunday mornings.

  3. Lex says:

    “these are signs of a press corps that can be deeply unserious bout international politics pretty much everything.”

    Fixed that for you. 😉

  4. Michael Green says:

    The only justification for Bruni being on the op-ed page is that he is less racist than MoDodo, less megalomaniacal than Friedman Unit, less of an armchair sociologist than Our Mister Brooks, and less idiotic than Cardinal Douthat.

    But this is worth adding. Today, on This Week Without David Brinkley, the would-be journalist hosting it interrupted the “powerhouse roundtable” to turn to Nate Silver for about two minutes in which Silver explained his numbers and why he thinks Republicans have a better chance of taking the Senate than Democrats holding onto it. Then it was back for several more minutes in which the group essentially agreed with or ignored Silver according to how his facts fit their feelings. And the networks wonder why their ratings are down.

  5. Evelyn says:

    Bruni is also doing a classic he-said-she-said, of the Climate science variety: “Everything he said is true. Now let’s hear from the other side.”

  6. Jay —

    Did you notice what seemed to be a mission statement from Chuck Todd during his Meet the Press debut yesterday? Talking to his panel of mayors, he said:

    “Well, we want to show that some people do practice the art of politics. Remember, it’s not politics that people hate, it’s that they hate the politicians that don’t know how to practice the art of it.”

    Here, Todd seems to concede that he needs to have a View From Somewhere, while still maintaining what you would call his “innocence,” by avoiding any specific position along an ideological spectrum.

    Translated, I think his commitment is to praise those who practice the “art of politics” in the service of government, while castigating those who use political rhetoric to defeat it.

    In practice, this may turn out to be no more than a fancy way of searching for that Beltway El Dorado called Common Ground, the mythical Gipper-&-Tipper beer after hours so beloved by Todd’s erstwhile MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews.

    Alternately, Todd’s formulation may amount to a technocratic meritocracy: those who are skilled at melding rhetoric with policy vs those who inept at it.

    However, if I were to lean over backwards to give Todd the benefit of the doubt, I would take his distinction as being a promise to praise those who act in good faith in favor of the Body Politic, and to criticize those he finds self-serving and hypocritical.

    If the latter, Todd’s attitude towards the “art of politics” would seem to jibe with PressThink‘s own criterion for assessing positive, and negative, contributions to civic life.

  7. , has wound up looking bad in front of his journalistic colleagues. Memorable examples include David Gregory and Andrew Ross Sorkin. This week Politico published an embarrassing attempt at a take down by Michael Hirsh
    Nơi chia sẽ những kiến thức

  8. rapier says:

    The NY Times get it perfectly. That is to be the Pravda and Izvestia of the national security and financial power elites. Whose goals have nothing to do with you or lowly readers so they work to infantalize them.

    Non corporate journalists don’t seem to get that is how the world works now. Even though they were told in a seemingly different context

    The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

  9. Here, Todd seems to concede that he needs to have a View From Somewhere, while still maintaining what you would call his “innocence,” by avoiding any specific position along an ideological spectrum