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This is a story about blogging. Please pardon while I work out my blogging neuroses by blogging about it. (more…)

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While I’m as prone to lamenting Paris Hilton stories on CNN as much as the next gal, there’s something kind of hilarious in people’s pearl-clutching over the vapidity of this article in Salon. Considering that Salon’s whole shtick is sort of a cultural/political/random-ass-stuff schmorgasboard, I’m really confused by the commenters who have worked themselves into a cute little tizzy of moral indignation over the fact that Salon would bother reporting on Media’s Bistro’s “DC’s hottest media types” contest when don’t you know there are starving children in Africa? Examples:

so little substance.
No wonder our Republic is going down the toilet. What’s next? A Hottest Self-Congratulatory A-Holes Contest

So I’m spending my money to subscribe and read this kind of crap as the featured story? Wasn’t there something more important to run as the main story?

And probably the best one:

This article might have been worth a short blurb, at most. Please give us a solid article on who the best reporter in D.C. is.

Oh, yes, because that’s something totally capable of being measured, and people would totally read that article. Gag.

What’s worse, though, is all the people who just had to give their opinion of the relative hotness of Kriston Capps and Catherine Andrews, the two people who won the contest. That might be valid — might — if the whole point of the article was “Look how hot they are!” But it wasn’t. The point was about how Capps and Andrews won because they had bots on their side and that the whole thing — from the Clinton staffer’s “campaign” email to the fact that people started getting snippy when the bots started running amok — is kind of funny and silly and lame all at once. And yet dudes on the Internet (or gals, I guess, as some of the names are gender-neutral or anon) cannot resist one, even one, chance to exert their position as personal arbiters of exactly who is or isn’t allowed to be considered hot, because everyone knows that their personal feelings on this matter are of utmost importance and interest. As one Salon commenter put it:

Is it funny to see a DC hotness contest taken over by robots? YES!

Is it funny to see people get upset about who won? YES!

Is it funny to see critiques of society based on how society behaves in an all for fun hotness contest? YES!

So shut the fuck up, other commenters at Salon. Thank you.

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Sometimes you just need to copy and paste a few lines from another blog onto yours, even though you have nothing to add, uh, intellectually, in order to say “Hey, look here. This is a great paragraph.”

If Eddie Vedder sat stone silent for 30 seconds, everyone would know that he hated George Bush. Eddie Vedder is hate for George Bush. He is the Jeremy to George Bush’s recess lady. Bleeping out Eddie Vedder’s criticisms of George Bush is censorship in the same way umbrellas censor the sun.

That’s all.

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The Anthropology of Blogging

I was thinking about Elyzabethe’s post the other day in which she claimed, by virtue of my presence, I would be pushing the politics of this blog to the left.  It was a funny post, as it was meant to be. 

To a certain extent, she was explaining my continued presence on the blog long after my guestblogging assignment had expired but she was also introducing the idea that this blog does not represent a particular school of thought or political ideology. 

Blogs with multiple contributors from vastly different philosophical or ideological backgrounds are somewhat rare, or at least it seems so to me.  So it got me thinking. 

To what extent do people frequent only the blogs which reflect their views and to what extent do they engage blogs which challenges or stretches their views?  Is blog surfing an exercise in affirming already held political/social philosophies?  Or is it an exercise in evaluating different perspectives and choosing one from issue to issue? 

The answer is important, I think, if ever we’re going to assess the effect of blogging on our national discourse.  Blogging exposes many readers to new ideas but it also tends to solidify the division of opinions. 

For my part, most of the time I read the blogs I tend to agree with first.  Then, if I have time, I read the blogs I tend to disagree with and test my opinions on them.  

Of course, whether I agree or disagree with them, I always read Elyzabethe, Raee, and YoungJoe first.  And I suggest everyone else does too. 

Then I read newspaper and magazine articles.  And finally, I read the blogs, almost always starting with Atrios

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“OMG! Talk about casual chic! He’s dirty. He’s sexy. He is so money. Only Jeremy Darling could make a formal occasion look like an after-party… and for him, it probably is.

Via Outta Mind Outta Site, the next step in online advertising: inserting ads directly into “the blogstream.” Sure, businesses and politicians have been trying to do this sneakily (with what level of success, who knows?) for years, but this brazen display of advertlogging (hey, if you people are going to persist in making “vlogging” into a word, then pardon me this one) by celebrity-blogger Perez Hilton is somehow more and less offensive at the same time. I mean, it is marked “advertisement,” but it’s also designed to look and sound identical to a typical Hilton post. Catherine writes:

perez hilton, what the hell is this? for a couple of weeks now i’ve noticed these oddly-written, oddly-imaged posts and wondered if you were on crack while writing them. and now in my slow stupor i finally realize they are ads for dirty sexy money, placed as posts, right in the blog stream.

In my limited knowledge of Perez, I’m not sure he’s ever claimed NOT to be a complete shill. But still. Keep this up, and people are going to start calling for some sort of professional-standards-inducing “blogger’s union.” Oh, wait

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Sometimes the questions raised in a legal battle bear only passing resemblance to the facts of a case.  Neat abstract legal principles are extrapolated from messy realities and the court rules on the principles, often times emphasizing and embellishing certain facts over others in order to make a point. 

So I don’t know exactly what’s going on over at the Santa Barbara News-Press

After a year of name calling, serial litigation and dozens of newsroom defections, American journalism’s nastiest in-house squabble debuted in a courtroom here Tuesday.

Attorneys for eight fired journalists accused Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw of trying to quash a union organizing drive, while the publisher’s lead lawyer argued that the employees overstepped their authority and tried to seize control of the newspaper.

But among other things the dispute raises an issue which should get more attention, as it is an issue being played out nearly everywhere. 

“These are employees who will testify that their sole goal was to take control of the newspaper,” Cappello said, “so the publisher [would have] no control of what is written in the newspaper and how it is written.” He added in his opening statement that McCaw was merely trying to rein in workers who had an inflated “sense of entitlement to write what they wanted, when they wanted” and who, when challenged, denigrated their own paper and publisher.

McCaw bought the newspaper in 2000 from New York Times Co., raising hopes that local ownership would insulate the venerable newspaper from the economic woes plaguing other dailies. Internal disagreements at the paper exploded into public view last summer, when Editor Jerry Roberts, four other top editors and venerable columnist Barney Brantingham resigned en masse.

The journalists said they were protesting improper meddling by McCaw and editorial page editor Travis Armstrong in news decisions. They cited management’s decision to block publication of a story about Armstrong’s drunk driving conviction and a reprimand issued to journalists for publishing actor Rob Lowe’s address in a story about his proposed home construction, something McCaw said was an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Union activists said the exodus now totaled about 50. Although the News-Press has hired replacement workers, the city desk reporting staff has been reduced to four from 14, according to several journalists who have left the paper. McCaw’s spokeswoman would not confirm or deny those figures.

There is a long and somewhat venerable history of newspaper owners who feel their paper is soap box for their views.  In fact, it was the norm of the press when this country was founded.  But that history has run counter to a relatively recent trend, started in the early 20th century, of professional journalism. 

Media critic Robert McChesney noted that the rise of professional journalism could be linked to media consolidation and the disappearance alternative presses.  Instead of being one voice in a chorus of various perspectives, with that chorus fading, a newspaper needed to market its credibility in order to be relevant.  Otherwise, it would just sound like noise to the readers. 

It was in the cauldron of controversy, during the Progressive era, that the notion of professional journalism came of age. Savvy publishers understood that they needed to have their journalism appear neutral and unbiased, notions entirely foreign to the journalism of the era of the Founding Fathers, or their businesses would be far less profitable. Publishers pushed for the establishment of formal “schools of journalism” to train a cadre of professional editors and reporters. None of these schools existed in 1900; by 1915, all the major schools such as Columbia, Northwestern, Missouri, and Indiana were in full swing. The notion of a separation of the editorial operations from the commercial affairs—termed the separation of church and state—became the professed model. The argument went that trained editors and reporters were granted autonomy by the owners to make the editorial decisions, and these decisions were based on their professional judgment, not the politics of the owners and the advertisers, or their commercial interests to maximize profit. Readers could trust what they read. Owners could sell their neutral monopoly newspapers to everyone in the community and rake in the profits.

I think on some profound level we are starting to see the media swing back to the practices of an earlier era.  With the entry fee into the new media being so cheap and simple, via blogs, there are far more voices today, even in spite of the excessive big media consolidation. 

So while media owners still have an incentive to sell the credibility of its product, FoxNews, Air America, and especially blogs are showing that bias can be a force in the new media. 

I think that’s a good thing, actually. 

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me = switzerland

So you may have noticed, oldmancoyote is now blogging at yellow is the color on a regular basis. Which is a good thing, since I’m apparently never going to blog again, if the past few days are any indication.

Warning: he is a HARDCORE DEMOCRAT, which means that he may clash with Ms. Raee, who is a HARDCORE LIBERTARIAN. Lucky me, I’m in the middle.

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