Posts from March 21, 2005

Going tab

Going tab

: The New York Times reports today on the switch to tabloid just announced for The Jersey Journal, the paper published out of the building where I work most days.

Apart from sometimes bragging about some bloggy things happening at my day job or asking questions of you all for a project, I try to make a point of not getting into discussions of company policy on this blog because it’s a clear conflict; apart from the sport of watching me tie my tongue in knots, it wouldn’t be of much value. That, by the way, is why I disagree with Debbie Weil and Rick Bruner when they ding Boeing and GM executive bloggers for not immediately gabbing about public controversies in their companies. Especially in public companies where their words could have an impact on stock prices, there is only so much they are allowed to say and they should not try to use their individual platforms to set company policy.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. Neither is the tabbing of the Jersey Journal, which I’m delighted to see happen (the prototype is great and the format is perfect for that paper).

Now, at last, I’ll start getting to the point: The Times story is written by Kit Seelye, a good reporter on the media beat whom I read all the time, and when she called there was a moment’s awkwardness, for it was a story cowritten by her that set me off in my, shall we say, theatrical complaint about some Times’ coverage of bloggers, which led to the email exchange with Times Executive Editor Bill Keller. So now she was calling on a story regarding my day job, which presented an interesting new conflict in the double life of MediaMan and BlogBoy.

She was extremely nice, saying that they tried to get the essence of my quote. I rather fell over myself to be cordial back just to get quickly past that awkwardness. (And, no being nice wasn’t going to get me treated better in the story; that is the advantage of dealing with professional, dispassionate reporters; they will most likely fall over themselves to be fair in such circumstances.) And the truth is that I have no problem with the reporters who wrote that story and I frequently link to and quote their work; I did have a problem with that story and, Lord knows, I had my say.

It occurred to me that this is like being a critic: I absolutely love some shows by David Kelly and I don’t like others and neither judgment has anything to do with Kelly himself but only with his work and my individual view of it. It’s not personal. As a critic though, I never met Kelly and for all these reasons didn’t want to; I wanted to maintain some separation and remain just a member of the audience, not a would be friend. But in this small world, we bloggers could very well run into folks we write or snark about (at one conference or another) and though that can cause a moment’s awkwardness, we still should say what we think. Should I say it less theatrically sometimes? Sometimes, yes.

But that’s still not the point. Here, at long, long last is the point: Blogging is also not like being a critic because most of our criticism tends to be negative, at least when it comes to the press. When I was a TV critic, I wrote about shows I liked and shows I didn’t and I argued that the more valuable reviews for my readers were the positive ones (who wants to waste time on a piece of junk?). That’s why I instituted the grades that became Entertainment Weekly’s critical conceit, so readers woudn’t have to waste their time figuring out what we thought of a “D” show.

In this new intersection of citizens’ and professional media, I think it would be valuable to give positive reviews, too. Of course, we often do that simply by linking to a good story. But when we write about the press and how the job of the press is done, it’s usually to find fault. That is valuable, I believe, and it should continue to give ballast to the hot-air balloon that the press has become. But it’s also important to value good reporting, or many fear we’ll start to lose it.

Will I do that? I have no idea. I’m not taking a pledge for I’ll probably fall down on it. But as I thought about this analogy of blogger to critic, it made me think that it’s also important to recognize good work and to say it more often.

There: That was my point. And I did a damned bad job of getting to it. I give myself a D. I’m going to go to a mirror and rant at me now.

: Oh, and by the way, I think I should be very proud to have gotten the word “cooties” into the New York Times.

How news spreads… now

How news spreads… now

: Doc has neat stats on how the news of Yahoo’s purchase of Flickr spread on the internet vs. MSM:

Technorati finds 1853 yahoo flickr results, mostly about Yahoo buying Flickr. Google Web finds 350,000 results, starting with old reports, mostly on blogs, of rumors that Yahoo might buy Flickr. Google News finds 22 results, of which only this blogcritics item has current news on the matter. That’s at 5pm, Mountain time, today. [Sunday]

Citizens’ media finds a home

Citizens’ media finds a home

: This is a big deal: OurMedia.org has launched as a home for citizens’ media. This matters mostly because distributing audio and video you create can cost you a fortune in bandwidth. Now here’s a place to put it. I don’t think this is about being a portal to citizens’ media; the entire point of this new world is that it’s distributed. But it allows more people to serve more stuff. I’ve watched some videos; some are good and, of course, some are crap: nature of the beast. What will make this work, of course, will be the links to individual pieces from weblogs and news sites.

Congratulations to J.D. Lassica, Marc Canter, et al for making this happen. It is a very good thing.

: LATER: Mostly Muppet says:

ìOur mediaî should be fully distributed using a leader and innovator in P2P software – BitTorrent. Hosting large multimedia files on a web server is so Web 1.0.

Schiavo fallout

Schiavo fallout

: As Congress and the President rushed into their exploitation of Terri Schiavo, they set off a bomb that will have considerable fallout, I think:

: Without incredibly explicit instructions directly from the patient — and even with explicit instructions from the spouse or guardian — I can see doctors and hospitals refusing to take people off life-support for fear that some family member can come forward and start suing.

: Not that moneyu should be a factor in matters of life and death — though, of course, it is in the insurance industry — but we are going to end up with who-knows-how-many-more vegetative patients who will be kept alive out of fear of litigation and the high cost of maintaining them will fall to the people through insurance and taxes.

: We now have the federal government — and not just the federal goverment but both houses of Congress and the President himself — inserting themselves into an individual medical, legal, family dispute. Watch the avalanche of individual cases that will now fall upon Washington: You did it for Terri, why not for my cousin?

: The Republicans set some odd precedents in matters of state’s rights and government interference in individuals’ lives that may come back to haunt them.

: You can bet there will be attempts to extend what happened last night as a principle of life into the debate over abortion.

: You can bet you will not see attempts to extend this principle into the debate over the death penalty, however.

: You will see Terri Schiavo continue to be used as a political hostage as any Democrat who dared question the wisdom and legality of this action will be accused by opponents in the next election as being against life.

What else?

This is not the result of deliberative government and the rule of law. This is the result of the fog of media and cynical politics.

: MORE: I also believe that this will have an indirect impact on the issues surrounding right-to-die and euthenasia. I do agree that starving a person to death — or choking them by withdrawing a resperator — is potentially cruel (the arguments about whether a person without a brain feels pain are, of course, inconclusive). I would be scared of agreeing to die that way. But if I were eased into death with drugs, that might be a different matter. [Note to the future: Do not take this as my living will. I’m not sure yet.] But to ease me into death with drugs — in other words, to kill me with medication — is illegal in all states but Oregon. And so we are forced to choose what certainly seems to be a crueler means of ending life. It’s not wrong to draw the parallel many have (one commenter on this post, one blogger I quoted on MSNBC last week) to death-penalty treatment: We also cannot be sure whether they suffer (there is debate about that) but even if they do, it is for a far, far shorter time than starving someone to death or choking them (which is terribly frightening to me). So more fallout of this case — quite unintended by those who set off the bomb — could be more liberalization of laws regarding medically assisted death. Or put it this way: If I wrote my living will with explicit instructions [again: I’m not going that yet] saying that I would want life support removed but only with sufficient narcotics to cause death, what would doctors and courts do then?

: Joshua Claybourn discusses the constitutionality of the legislation just signed. Here’s a link to the Senate bill. See also Joe Gandelman’s analysis of the politics.

The star Bittorrent made

The star Bittorrent made

: By now the story is everywhere: Fiona Apple’s unreleased album is spreading all over the internet thanks to Bittorrent (I just downloaded it and what I’ve heard so far is good). Sony wouldn’t release the album but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did now.

Cuff ‘im

Cuff ‘im

: We’re wasting an ankle bracelet on Martha Stewart.

How much better it would be if we slapped that ankle bracelet on a sex offender.

The slime who confessed to kidnapping and murdering Jessica Lunsford was a sex offender who was not where he was registered; he was across the street from the poor little girl and that’s where he killed her.

Registration, unfortunately, is not enough. Something more needs to be done. So shy shouldn’t sex offenders be cuffed with electronic bracelets and tracked for the rest of their lives?