Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 26, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

YET ANOTHER FAMOUS WRITER ADMITS HE IS ADDICTED TO BLOGS....Gotta disagree with Matt: George Packer's ode to blogs in Mother Jones isn't "dripping with condescension." After admitting that he's addicted to blogs and spends uncounted hours reading them, his judgment is surprisingly accurate:

There's a constant sense that someone (almost always the blogger) is winning and someone else is losing. Everything that happens in the blogosphere -- every point, rebuttal, gloat, jeer, or "fisk" (dismemberment of a piece of text with close analytical reading) -- is a knockout punch. A curious thing about this rarefied world is that bloggers are almost unfailingly contemptuous toward everyone except one another. They are also nearly without exception men (this form of combat seems too naked for more than a very few women). I imagine them in neat blue shirts, the glow from the screen reflected in their glasses as they sit up at 3:48 a.m. triumphantly tapping out their third rejoinder to the WaPo's press commentary on Tim Russert's on-air recap of the Wisconsin primary.

OK, I take it back. Maybe it is dripping with condescension, although, as Matt notes, I'll never know for sure unless (a) I buy a copy of the magazine or (b) they print the entire piece online, not just the first few paragraphs.

However, based solely on the thousand words that are online, I'd say Packer has blogs pegged pretty well. While it may be true that mainstream journalists are sometimes more contemptuous than they should be toward blogs, Packer is dead right when he says that we more than return the favor. In fact, practically the only place that liberal and conservative bloggers find common ground these days is their apparent belief that the New York Times ranks just below Richard Nixon's White House on the list of trustworthy American institutions.

Can that be true? Off the top of my head, here's how I'd rank the most common sources of news, counting only those with large audiences. Starting with the worst:

  1. Supermarket tabloids

  2. Talk radio

  3. Local TV news

  4. Small local newspapers

  5. Chain newspapers

  6. Network newscasts

  7. Major national dailies, including the New York Times

  8. The very best of the glossy magazines

In other words, with the exception of a small number of top-notch magazines, which pay well, allow lots of time to report stories, and provide lots of space to tell them, the New York Times is about as good as it gets. If you think the Times sucks, then, it mostly means that you're just unhappy with the current human capacity to report events. It's like complaining that the Yankees suck because no one on their team has ever hit a hundred home runs in a season.

And now for the most important question of all: how did this post somehow turn into a defense of the New York Times? Honestly, I don't know. But maybe Packer can add that to the list of blogdom's charms: like that proverbial box of chocolates, you just never know what you're going to get. Sometimes, neither do the bloggers themselves.

UPDATE: The whole article is now available here. Further commentary on Packer's observations is here.

Kevin Drum 6:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly