Friday, November 25, 2005

Shopping, and the Lust for Legitimacy

When Black Friday comes
I'm gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it 'til
I satisfy my soul
— Steely Dan
"Black Friday"

I can feel my credit card throbbing in my, you dog! the economy and get a new iPod to boot! Well, keep throbbing, Evil Demon! I'm going to spend Black Friday — the day when retailers traditionally go from the red into the black — finishing up a complex ground system for a VHF antenna, overhauling the insides of an N-Frame S&W revolver and changing the water in my goldfishes' aquarium.

But before I start this wild cycle of revelry, I want to toss off a couple of largely irrelevant comments about the blogosphere, the MSM and the lust for legitimacy. My comments are bought on by upheavals among the Powers-That-Be in blog-world, where Open Source Media, the largest and apparently best funded of the blog aggregators has morphed back to its original identity as Pajamas Media. The idea is the creation of a portal for people looking for an alternative to MSM reportage. Here's a part of their mission statement:
Readers unfamiliar with blogs are sometimes puzzled by the concept, thinking that they are mere online "diaries," where egoists and sentimentalists record their thoughts and feelings. But the phenomenon of blogging is much more than that; it’s the modern equivalent of the Gutenberg revolution, a way of putting not just published material in the hands of the public—but publishing itself.
They put their pajamas — a reference to snide comments from the MSM on bloggers — back on after a number of the big gun bloggers felt Open Source was headed hell-bent in the wrong direction, down the same path as the MSM. That's an oversimplification, but fair enough.

There is within the blogosphere a huge lust for legitimacy...oh please, oh please can I have a press card? I recall a picture of the "ideal blogger rig" for reporting from location, the idea being that hordes of bloggers would do a better job of reporting than the mainstream guys. That's also probably true, but my question is, "Who cares?"

I've been a professional journalist — i.e., paid to report and write stories — since 1968. Lede from my first story: "Checked your student ID card lately?" On such drek careers are made!!! From my standpoint, the problem is not that MSM reporters do a bad or inadequate job of reporting the news; rather, that the entire concept of reportage is fundamentally flawed. Reportage is the accumulation of data and the transmission of that data to the generic entity of "the public."

But as the nerdy boys and girls noted in the last "Information Revolution," data is data, but information is power. I'm getting a little bit bored with all this "citizen journalist" stuff...smacks 'way too much of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Meet the new boss...etc. It doesn't matter who's manning the shovels on the data-crap brigade...the minute you start thinking of yourself as a "REPORTER," an outsider filtering data, you lose your hold on what it is you're bringing to the party.


Anonymous said...

I, too, have worked as a professional a sports writer for a small daily. For a solid year, it was my only job, so I've done my stint in the journalistic trenches, so to speak.

To this day, I sometimes do part-time sports writing because, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote, journalism is a "low, base habit" that is "worse than heroin" in some ways.

I agree with your assessment of bloggers.

Once bloggers begin asking for "press credentials" or thinking of themselves as "journalists" then they become exactly what they think they are rebelling against.

Bloggers are exactly like the punk garage band who creates a following by claiming to be "authentic" and not a bunch of commercialized sell-outs like all the other bands who sign record deals.

The little punk garage band can take that pose until the day they sign their first record deal.


Michael Bane said...

Amen, Hillbilly!

The appeal of blogging for me is rooted in the eccentric individuality that comes with "owning" the delivery media. When I made my living as a freelance magazine writer, I was adamant that i write in first person, because I was not "third person omniscient."

A blog takes that philosophy several steps farther. But at the point I say that I want to "report" on something, I make the crucial mistake of setting myself *outside* whatever it is I'm "reporting on."

I think it's silly to pretend the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle doesn't extend into our everyday lives!