Keller of The Times writes III

Keller of The Times writes III

: The epistolary posting continues between Bill Keller of The Times and me and I’m glad it is, for I think we’re honing in on the differences we may — or may not — have regarding this new media world of ours. I’ve created a category so you can read the previous exchanges; start from the bottom and work up. First, Bill Keller’s email:

Jeff,

Before I get to your message, a brief but, I think, illustrative digression. In a talk Saturday to staff and alums of the Columbia daily paper, The Spectator, I mused a bit about some of the subjects you and I have been discussing. I made clear that I regard blogs as a valuable resource for journalists and an instructive source of criticism of our work. I also said that the blog world, as you would expect of a world with free admission, includes some real junk. My exact line was, “At its worst, a blog is a one-man circle jerk.” Now, I could have said (and have said, in less public venues) pretty much the same thing and worse about certain writers and pundits in the mainstream media, but the subject of the moment was blogs. And it is probably a defensible view that self-indulgent writing and posturing are somewhat more prevalent in a medium that is diaristic in form and largely unfiltered. It could also be said that my phrase was a tasteless choice of metaphors for a person in my job speaking in the august (if acoustically challenged) venue of the Low Library. So be it. But that’s what I said, and that’s all it meant.

The interesting thing is that various versions of what I said have circulated in the blogosphere, mostly taking the remark as a wholesale slur of bloggers. I spent a little time this morning sampling the ardent points of view that have coalesced around what people imagine to be my view of bloggers based on their reading of a phrase pulled from a speech, or based on what they assume the editor of the NYT must think of them. Some of the comments make a point that I have frequently made myself — that, heh heh, ain’t it sweet for an editor at the NYT to be on the receiving end of coverage that distorts his views. (My only advice to Nick Lemann when he took over as dean of the Columbia Journalism School was that he should set up A-team and B-team senior seminars in which students write profiles of one another. No student should graduate without the experience of being written about.) But the thing about “the citizen’s media,” is that a distortion or a half-baked interpretation metastasizes in real time, and can quickly acquire the status of conventional wisdom. Even if you have lots of time on your hands, there is little hope of pursuing and correcting the misunderstanding as it scatters across the digital landscape. Maybe eventually something like an accurate version of events emerges organically from this process, but I rather doubt it, and in any case the process itself is a little like watching someone chew with his mouth open.

Watching this entirely minor episode unfold also confirms my concern that in this disaggregated media environment, people tend to gravitate toward information and opinion that confirms their own prejudices, toward zones of comfort and affinity. There are, of course, blogs where you encounter intelligent, provocative debate and reflection, and I value them, but it seems to be a world in which people quickly harvest the stuff that conforms to what they already believe, where there’s a lot more pronouncing and cheerleading than listening and reflecting, and where the market has little tolerance for ambiguity and complexity. (If you have another sister who is a cheerleader, I apologize for any offense given.)

That’s what I meant before about driving traffic toward the extremes. Just so I’m clear, this is a fear, not a conviction. I could be entirely wrong. Maybe the best blogs, the ones that cherish empirical evidence and struggle with nuance and prize intellectual honesty, will prevail in the great marketplace. Or maybe there will at least be robust (and sustainable) islands of serious discourse in the blogosphere — like HBO in the television world or, forgive me, The New York Times in the shrinking pool of serious print media.

I don’t, by the way, believe this polarizing tendency began with blogs. The cockfight school of discourse has a long pedigree, and it began to crowd out serious journalism on TV, for instance, before blogs arose. CNN probably did more damage to our national civic conversation with “Crossfire” — establishing the principle that a balanced discussion meant two ill-informed gasbags shouting epithets at one another — than anything the blog world has yet accomplished. Jeff, you ignorant slut!

I share your distaste for one-size-fits-all journalism, and I don’t think that’s what the NYT provides. We may not carry every size and fashion, but in both the news pages and the opinion pages (those two pages per day with which, I keep reminding people, I have absolutely nothing to do) we carry a lot more than your average department store. And the proliferation of voices beyond what a newspaper manages to include is a good thing, a genuine virtue of blogs. It’s not the variety of the blogosphere that worries me, it’s the dynamic. In the blogosphere, people tend to choose sides and dig in their heels well before evidence can be tested or actual reflection can take place. At least, that’s my impression.

Obviously if I thought blogs should be disdained or dismissed, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But I gotta go.

Best, Bill

And my response:

Bill,

I’ll make some specific suggestions on how to deal with the particular blog situation you raise.

But first, I can’t help but draw parallels between your citizens’-media moment and my major-media moments lately. I didn’t intend to bring the specific complaints I’ve had about Times coverage of blogs into our enjoyable and edifying exchange. But since you raised a case of it’s-news-because-it-happens-to-the-editor, I will do the same and hope you take it in that spirit. Besides, the parallels are too perfect to pass up.

First, there is the story that led to this exchange (bless its heart): In it, The Times quoted me as saying in relation to Eason Jordan, “I wish our goal were not taking off heads but digging up truth.” That was accurate and certainly didn’t make me look bad. But in my original post, I was talking about my fear that established media would portray us as a beheading mob; as snipped and quoted in The Times, that turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Was the quote taken out of context? Perhaps as much as yours was. Was the quote used to fit the writers’ agenda? As much as yours was, I’d say.

And then there is the Sarah Boxer story about Iraqi bloggers that got me so apoplectic. I won’t repeat my complaints now (they’re all here) but I will note that The New York Times’ idle speculation that pro-American Iraqi citizens might be CIA plants spread through big media like your quote spread through small media: The BBC spread it immediately; the Times syndicate spread it as well; and I soon found myself batting it down in a game of pundit wack-a-mole with Eric Alterman on MSNBC. Just as you saw the meme — as we call it — of your circle-jerk quote spread through blogs, so did Boxer’s speculation — and its danger — spread through established media. As you said of blogs: “…a distortion or a half-baked interpretation metastasizes in real time, and can quickly acquire the status of conventional wisdom.” Ditto big media. Or worse, it quickly acquires the status of the official record. And which is heard louder, big media or citizens’ media? Which is more authoritative and, when wrong, more harmful? Which is harder to stop and correct? I did bring the Boxer story to the attention of my friend and former colleague, Dan Okrent, and he did look into it. But his reply came online and not in print; it did not reach the official record, and so Boxer’s speculation stands. (I would like to hear what you think about that story and my issues with it. Maybe that is the excuse for a drink.)

The obvious point: Much of what can be said against blogs can be said against the establishment press, and vice versa.

Now let me suggest how you could have dealt with your blog moment:

The first suggestion is about transparency: When I read The Spectator account of your talk at Columbia, I went online looking for a full transcript or recording so I could judge the remarks in their full context. I didn’t find it but wish I had. This is why I suggest that news organizations should put full interviews and source material online — not because the public is dying for more (they aren’t!) but so those who want to find the context can. If your speech were online and if The Times story about Eason Jordan had linked to my fuller quote, readers could have judged the context (and thus, our reporting and editing)..

The second suggestion is about conversation: Just as you’ve won over folks with this email exchange (and you have), so could you have gone to some of the blogs that snarked at you and responded directly via comments or email. Believe me, you would have impressed and disarmed many of them. These are mostly reasonable people you’re dealing with — they are your readers, after all. If you would have responded to the out-of-context interpretations of your quote, I am confident that your response would have gotten more links and greater Googlejuice than the original blog posts about you. And that would have happened quickly (far faster than any newspaper correction). The distributed nature of this medium would make the correction travel faster than it ever does in print. Go ahead: Try it.

The third suggestion is, again, that you should not judge all blogs by the ones you dislike or who dislike you (just as readers should not judge a paper or journalism by one off-key story or reporter). Out of our email exchange, I’ve seen many positive comments in my blog and in others’; you are winning friends and influencing bloggers and I think you need to include that in your calculation of the value and danger of blog interaction. And though I make blogs sound like the workers’ (or writers’) paradise, very Marxian, the truth is that it’s not at all egalitarian: Go to Technorati.com and look at who has the most incoming links — our proxy for influence, a more deliberate and in many ways better measure than circulation — and then see who’s dissing you and who matters. (See, we can be elitist, too.) I can point you to many discussions that are not of the playground variety: Look, for example, at the strong disagreement playing out right now between Powerline of the right and Matthew Yglesias of the left (a scary smart and talented young guy you should hire, by the way): They are disagreeing strongly and pointedly but intelligently and, all-in-all, civilly. It can happen. It does happen.

Finally, various commenters have pointed out that you would make a great blogger. They’re right. In fact, because you are writing these emails with full expectation that I’m going to post them, I could argue that you are blogging. Welcome to the club, Bill.

best, jeff

: Also note Dan Drezner’s take on the quoting of Keller. For illustration, he took some Keller lines wildly out of context and then said:

What’s interesting about these different Keller episodes is that the Columbia Spectator reporter probably took just the juiciest bit from Keller’s comments regardless of whether they were consistent with the overall tenor of his remarks — whereas Jarvis (“mediaman by day, blogboy by night”) reprinted all of Keller’s comments, allowing one to judge Keller’s argument in toto.

Oddly enough, this is undoubtedly one trait that good bloggers share with the New York Times. The Times, as the “paper of record,” was very good about printing the full text of important documents and speeches before there was a world wide web. The best bloggers, through hyperlinks, can engage in a similar practice when parsing out someone’s comments.

  • EverKarl

    “The obvious point: Much of what can be said against blogs can be said against the establishment press, and vice versa.”
    If Mr. Keller is not convinced by Jeff’s examples, he should consider the urban legend that “[d]uring a photo opportunity at a 1988 grocers’ convention, President George [H.W.] Bush was ‘amazed’ at encountering supermarket scanners for the first time.” It was a falsehood made up over at The New York Times. Had blogs been in existence at the time, no doubt someone would have compared the NYT coverage to stories filed by Newsweek and others, exposing it for what it was. Instead, despite snopes.com, you will find people who believe that GHWB had never seen a supermarket scanner, because the meme became set in concrete.
    As for the notion that blogs put people into cocoons that isolate them from opinions that disagree with theirs, I would note that no respectable blog would attack a story in the NYT without having read it and linked to it. Of course, there are cases, like the Eason Jordan case, where the subject decides against requesting that the source material be published, in which case the reaction of many is disappointment.

  • Dishman

    But the thing about “the citizen’s media,” is that a distortion or a half-baked interpretation metastasizes in real time, and can quickly acquire the status of conventional wisdom.
    And then there is the Sarah Boxer story about Iraqi bloggers that got me so apoplectic.a game of pundit wack-a-mole with Eric Alterman
    I think this is a broader problem of communications in general.
    I offer as examples Green Day and flag burning within the subject of law.
    It’s fairly pervasive in and regarding science, too. As an example, we’ve still got Flat-Earthers.

  • grouch

    I am not at all sure that this correspondence between the two of you is all that newsworthy…after all do we have to resort to the news reporters becoming the news reported? Go on to something else.

  • Pete

    This may be apropos of nothing, and also highly anecdotal and personal, but one of the reasons I read this blog is because of your resume, Mr. Jarvis.
    You are “credentialed” precisely because you cut your journalistic teeth in the conventional media. I am confident that the things you write about have been researched and fact-checked to the best of your ability (and when errors occur, you forthrightly correct them). This is because you are an experienced reporter, editor and journalism entrepreneur. If it were just a guy in a basement somewhere (much like myself, which is why I would never consider blogging — who gives a fig what I have to say), I wouldn’t be reading buzzmachine.com.
    Given the choice between yourself and some self-styled Reformed-Former-Democrat lawyers with a clearly right wing agenda, I’ll take your blog any day.
    Really, this is not to blow smoke up your bum (if I may use my own “tasteless choice of metaphors”). I don’t agree with every word on this blog. I merely point out the fact that you and Mr. Keller are clearly still members of the same club, although you’re no longer sitting at the same table. The writers of some of the most popular blogs, “in which people quickly harvest the stuff that conforms to what they already believe, where there’s a lot more pronouncing and cheerleading than listening and reflecting, and where the market has little tolerance for ambiguity and complexity” couldn’t get in the front door!

  • http://www.scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    Jeff, it’s a lot simpler. He should retract and apologize. It was a very unprofessional thing to say. Let’s get out of name-calling mode, and get the name-calling out of the NY Times stories about blogging. And dammit, get a fact-checker. I’ve never read an article in the recent Times about a subject I knew that wasn’t riddled with factual errors. I have no confidence in their accuracy. All this name-calling is a Bush-like distraction from teh real issue, how to make the pros more serious about serving their users.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    Jeff,
    Stung into action eh? I really cannot understand why the editor of the NYT is wasting time on this self-indulgent debate, while Bush & Co continue their rampage of destruction across the ME, civil rights, the environment, etc etc…
    As for the Boxer story:
    The Fadhil brothers themselves actively promoted their blog and its pro-war, pro-US agenda all over the blogosphere. They were ecstatic when they were first interviewed by a reporter from USA Today. The article, which featured a large photo of the three Fadhil brothers frowing thoughtfully at a computer screen, helped launch them into the blogosphere’s big time hit-parade. Two of them then went on a tour of the USA, funded by a supposed charity called Spirit of America, during which time they visited the Oval Office in the company of Paul Wolfowitz and met with George W. Bush himself! They also met with General Tommy Franks, former head of the US military in Iraq. You know, the guy who doesn’t do body counts.
    Yet they claim we, the anti-war bloggers, and journalists like Sarah Boxer, are the ones endangering the Fadhil brothers’ lives?!?
    What’s more, the Fadhil meetings with Bush and Wolfie were widely publicized by the authors of all the same right-wing blogs that support Iraq The Model, many of whom had the delight of actually meeting the Fadhil brothers in person at a series of other meetings around the USA, all arranged by Spirit Of America.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    And here’s something strange about that Spirit of America tour: SoA CEO Jim Hake made sure that everybody at the events was aware of his No Photos Allowed policy. He explained that the brothers lives would be endangered if photos of them were available to Iraqi insurgents (see my blog for links to comments like this:
    There were signs on the doors to our lecture hall – “No Photographs”. The reason behind this is simple – there are dissident bloggers and bloggers who’s lives may be in jeopardy who were in attendence – they don’t want to go home and get killed, jailed, etc. Omar and Mohammed are in that category. Of course, several people still took pictures.
    And, no, I didn’t bust their chops. Probably should have, though.
    )
    But what about that photo in the much-publicized USA Today article? And what about the brothers’ own much-vaunted (ahem!) “Iraq Pro-Democracy Party” website (in English and Arabic), which features a big photo and not much else of value???
    Is this hypocrisy, scare-mongering, US PsyOps at work, or just plain stupidity?

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    By the way, here’s another strange thing about the Fadhil brothers’s site, and warblogs in general… Just by way of example, of course.
    The best online source for info about the Fadhil brothers’ tour of the USA is the “Roundup of the SoA tour” at Kesher Talk – “the Jewish weblog”. The site has links to 16 Jewish Publications, 5 Jewish Charities and 32 other Jewish Links. Now why is such a site promoting Iraq The Model?
    You tell me.
    Kesher Talk is hosted on the Web site of Howard Fienberg, a former (ahem!) “journalist” whose work includes “Global Warming Didn’t Do It: The real threats against public health”, “Nuclear, Free!”, “Battling conspiracy theories, Internet innuendo is tough” and “Students Do Support War on Terror”. If that doesn’t sound like a resume from a man ready to tow the Bush propaganda line I don’t know what does!
    Feinberg spent 5 years working with the NGO “Statistical Assessment Service”, presumably learning how to manipulate statistics to prove ideological theories. In January 2003 he became the new Legislative Assistant for Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) handling “energy, science, and the environment, among other issues”. Obviously he is well qualified for the job!
    And so it goes, on and on and on… A sparkling golden money trail of lies, links and propaganda! That’s the magic of Bush’s America!
    Viva el Fascimo!
    Viva Likudniks!
    Viva los Neocons!

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    OK, Ghandi, now you’ve done it: You’ve revealed yourself to be a garden-variety anti-Semite.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    No I haven’t. Prove to me why my comments are anti-Semetic.
    It is an increasinly well-documented fact (including FBI investigations) that a pro-Likud cabal is operating covertly within the highest levels of US politics.
    To say that such a thing is happening does not make you an anti-Semite, any more than saying that pro-Iranian groups are active within Iraqi politics.
    Those who throw out the anti-Semite line so qickly tend to be avoiding real debate.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    … and by the way, Jeff, you are attacking the MAN, not the MESSAGE. Attacking me personally rather than refuting my arguments.
    A common tactic of warbloggers wanting to distort the debate.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    No one can take the phrase “One-man circle jerk” out of context. It’s a crass and vulgar way to make a point. There are lots of other ways to say the same thing. I’m surprised the Bill Keller is surprised that, while making a speech at university, someone noticed his language. He knows better than that. I agree that some blogs are nothing but blowhards filling up space with their uninteresting and unnecessary thoughts, but I don’t need to use Keller’s phrase to say so. I’m not trying to be a prude, but he of all people should understand the attention placed by media outlets on public discourse.
    Just to make a note of how the Times makes plenty of its own sins of omission, let’s take today’s story headlines “Report Faults Bush INitiative on Education.” Some state legislators conducted some hearings and wrote a report that says No Child Left Behind has great goals but is flawed. There is a lot of writing about what is flawed and who says it is flawed.
    Then there is this: Several groups that strongly support the federal law took issue with the report.
    Which groups? I wonder.
    The story mentions one group, The Business Roundtable. Having read the story, I have no idea whether there are lots of groups, of just a few groups. I know that one group, state legislators put out a bad report, and some groups disagree, but I don’t know much more than that. But I’m left with the impression that this story’s goal was to let everyone know that NCLB is no good, and lots of people think so. And then again, something about thinness of the reporting tells me that this might not be true.
    That’s what I hate about the Times and other papers like it. They think it’s good enough just to tell me that other groups oppose it, and I should just take it on face value that’s true. Because they say so.

  • EverKarl

    gandhi,
    “Is this hypocrisy, scare-mongering, US PsyOps at work, or just plain stupidity?
    In your case, the answer would be “all of the above,” combined with an Orwellian denial of the obvious. Fascists=Likudniks=Neocons. We all get the code, gandhi. At least you went with fascists instead of Nazis.
    There is an FBI investigation, but a cabal is not “an increasinly [sic] well-documented fact.” If it was, there would be no need for the investigation. Rather, it’s just another item from Juan Cole’s fever swamp. That’s why your dishonesty, rather than the non-substance of your unproven charge, becomes the issue.
    And why would a Jewish site promote ITM? Gee, maybe because people interested in Israel would like to have other democracies in the Middle East? Maybe you see that as a bad thing. Most don’t, which is why (thankfully) hateful trolls like you have so little impact on the public debate.
    Nevertheless, I thank you for exposing yourself.

  • http://www.workingwithwords.blogspot.com John Ettorre

    Unfortunately, having Jeff Jarvis as the self-appointed spokesperson for bloggers (at least in this case) vs. the editor of the NYT makes it easier to dismiss the journalistic bona fides of blogging. Alterman is right about his brand of TV Guide-inculcated politics. And his full-throated defense of the worst gutter antics of Howard Stern (which inevitably conjures up the worst crude sexual excesses you can imagine) makes it impossible for him to really take the high road in a debate about the use of the term circle jerk. One is ultimately judged by the company one keeps, Jeff. When you stop flakking for Stern people will take you more seriously as a journalist.

  • J. Peden

    It’s classic, and still stunning, to hear Keller repeat the very same criticisms of blogging which apply so well to his own medium, and are in fact the problem with his own product, the examples of which are literally pandemic.
    While he excuses his “circle jerk” reference on the grounds that it is possible [even admittedly actual], who cares what is possible anymore than we care if Alterman merely says it is possible that the Iraq Bloggers are CIA controlled without any evidence at all of the possible being actual?
    Why mention either possibility if it is not meant to apply in some significant way? And who even cares even if 50% of bloggers are circle jerking away alone or with X number of others in their circles? What does this have to do with issues, in particular that of the credibility of the MSM and his own NYT? A vague fear of metastasis, that the luddite bloggers are going to take over all of cyberspace? Or cause the “wrong” people to get elected?
    If this is the model we are given whenever people like Keller and Alterman speak, that they will throw in some meaningless/useless possibilities, why even bother listening? I can list what is possible and even suggest what might be actual without Keller’s help. Likewise, no one would care what I said.
    I wouldn’t even care, unless I had seen the actual with my own eyes, as in the case of the MSM, whose performance is verging on boring in its predictability. Who wants to sit around all day groaning in disbelief of the patent inanity emitted from the MSM?
    And no, Bill, this does not mean I therefore only listen to what I want to hear. That’s your problem, as far as I can tell.
    It is perhaps the exact problem with MSM “journalism” that the merely possible is presented as though meaningful, actual, or epidemic, even if the assertions in reports make any sense at all to begin with – another gigantic problem with MSM “reporting”.
    Keller enc. are in serious need of some scientific thinking. I’m not going to hold my breath.

  • J. Peden

    Prove anything to gandhi? If there ever was a one man circle jerk, I present you himself.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    …why would a Jewish site promote ITM? Gee, maybe because people interested in Israel would like to have other democracies in the Middle East?
    a.k.a. the Likud-backed neo-con agenda.
    Why did Douglas Feith resign?
    What’s really going on with the FBI investigation into Lawrence Franklin’s Israeli connections?
    Wake up.

  • Dishman

    gandhi, your words come across to many as “it’s the evil jooos conspiracy”. In light of certain events of the last century, that gets a lot of hackles up in this country.
    That reminds me of another communications problem for my list above… the forged “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It’s fairly widely documented as a forgery, yet people still cite it and proclaim it evidence of “the evil jooos”.

  • http://www.dvorak.org/blog John C. Dvorak

    …and you don’t think this back-and-forth between you and Keller is tedious? Why don’t you two get a room?
    geez

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Dvorak: Your back-and-forth with yourself has been tedious for years. Didn’t you copyright “one-man circlejerk”?

  • Dishman

    John, I think it’s quite reasonable for Jeff to believe that people who are into reading him might be interested in the exchange. If you’re not interested, then don’t read it.

  • http://dougkenline.blogspot.com Doug Kenline

    keller needs to get a clue and start his own blog………get with the program keller……..start your own damn blog and set the record straight right on your own damn blog……get a clue….sending emails to jarvis and having him post them for you is about as lame as it gets……..start your own damn blog keller…………dk

  • Jeff B.

    Jesus, why is John C. Dvorak, of all people, plopping down turds in Jeff’s comment section? Hey Dvorak, get this: a lot of people find this back-and-forth to be quite edifying. You don’t, but then as a long-time blog-skeptic, I would imagine you’re feeling a OTBE right now.
    Jeez, maybe YOU ought to get a blog. Oh wait, you just did…and nobody reads it.

  • Jeff B.

    Er, “a BIT OTBE” is what I meant. Darn grammar blip.

  • EverKarl

    gandhi wrote:
    a.k.a. the Likud-backed neo-con agenda.
    Really? The only Jews interested in Israel are Likudniks? That will be news to a lot of people. Unless, of course, you’re using “Likud” as a fig leaf for “Jew,” so as to not be blatantly anti-Semitic.
    Why did Douglas Feith resign?
    Because he was under investigation and it probably made things politically easier for the Administration. And he’s being investigated for leaking to the media, not Israel. Consequently, I’d bet nothing happens to him because it’s hard to find a high government offical who hasn’t leaked to the media.
    What’s really going on with the FBI investigation into Lawrence Franklin’s Israeli connections?
    I don’t know and neither do you, apparently. Not that it stops you from dumping more unproven sewage from the Juan Cole fever swamp.
    I’m a little surprised Jeff hasn’t banned your hate mongering yet. Maybe he wants you to embarass yourself further. If so, he’s succeeding.

  • http://www.billingsnews.com David Crisp

    This Keller dude: I could work for him.

  • MitchLedford

    Jeff, You say, “The second suggestion is about conversation: Just as you’ve won over folks with this email exchange (and you have), so could you have gone to some of the blogs that snarked at you and responded directly via comments or email”
    So if there are, say, 100,000 intelligent articulate people who “snarked” him, how exactly do you propose that he do this? It seems like a problem of bandwidth to me. Journalists are like a cabal modem, lots of capacity in one direction, but not the other.
    Oh, and one more thing: If I agree with the MSM, but the majority of bloggers disagree with me, does that mean that I am just, well, hosed?
    “Turn up the signal, drown out the noise!”
    Oh, and be nice.
    Mitch

  • http://www.brainvomit.com/nerd shawn

    Isn’t a one-man circle jerk really just good ole masturbation?

  • EverKarl

    Jeff,
    Sorry to cross-post, but I want to make sure you didn’t miss the Slate piece on Keller.

  • http://www.pjnet.org Leonard Witt

    This is post that was made on my site PJNet.org by Andrew Cline of the blog Rhetorica Network; I thought it should be here too for the record:
    re: “True believers, whatever their persuasion, tend to start with the answer and therefore they don’t have to THINK about the question. They have moral clarity, often achieved without the benefit of information or reflection.”
    This is certainly a reasonable observation regarding certain bloggers. The problem, however, isn’t so much that the blogosphere is filled with true believers as it is that the true believers draw the most attention from the news media and blog readers
    Depth, complexity, nuance, and compromise can be found in the blogosphere. One merely has to be willing to read beyond the limited set of famous bloggers the news media so often promote.

  • http://www.dualbotic.com Charlie Barker

    Quoting Bill Keller:
    “Watching this entirely minor episode unfold also confirms my concern that in this disaggregated media environment, people tend to gravitate toward information and opinion that confirms their own prejudices, toward zones of comfort and affinity.”
    This should not be merely a concern for Mr Keller, IMHO it is a truism, but it does not confine itself to any one particular media. The only time most people take a stance on a particular issue is when they confront it for the first time, they will then usually file this away for regurgitation at the dinner table conversation.

  • Karen
  • Mark