There’s a lot of anger out there among establishment media types about the blogosphere, and it’s a great concern to me. I mean, I don’t care what people think about bloggers, but the extent to which nasty name-calling contributes to a kind of “truth-blindness” about the future of media does not bode well for mainstream news people, many of whom are my friends.
MSMers (blogging acronym for Main Stream Media) have never had warm fuzzies for bloggers. The issues have been credentials, checks and balances, and condescension. I’ve written about the roots of this many times here and argue that the news business is a trade, not the “profession” envisioned by Walter Lippmann. Bloggers are seen as amateurs and wannabes, but the RatherGate/MemoGate/CBSGate incident has put bloggers on the front page, and the resentments are getting ugly.
First, there was the reference by a former CBS News executive that bloggers were just people “in pajamas.” The blogosphere had fun with that one for awhile, considering the comment to be a badge of honor.
Last week, MSNBC/Newsweek columnist Steven Levy called bloggers “a nation of ankle biters,” which has prompted another round of shots from the blogosphere. Being the humorous types that bloggers are, links like this one are popping up. It leads to doggies wearing pajamas, a double reference to the condescension.
Glenn Reynolds felt he was misquoted in the article, adding:
“…as is so often the case with Big Media folks — he came in to the interview with his storyline predetermined, and he put things into that mold whether they fit or not. (It also, as always, makes me wonder where else this is happening without my noticing it.)
And, sadly, that — together with the condescending notion that bloggers are “biting the ankles” of their betters — says it all about what’s wrong with Big Media today. Levy’s disappointed in the blogosphere. But I’m disappointed in Levy, and much of his profession.”
“Do bloggers have the credentials of real journalists? No. Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.
Bloggers don’t know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square — without editors, correction policies or community standards. And so their tripe is often as vicious as it is vacuous.
…Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter’s notebook.”
And lest you think this only applies to the ivory tower known as “the press,” think again. While television stations and local newspapers are busy protecting their (shrinking) turf, new technologies keep coming down the pike that enable everyday people to do more and more. When these ankle-biting, hobby hacks in their pajamas turn to radio and television, everybody in town will be affected.
The cluetrain is leaving the station. Are you onboard?