Aw, shucks: I am so

Aw, shucks
: I am so damned honored and delighted to be on the warblogger watch list for my crimes against humanity [via Clay Waters].

This is the Nixon enemies list of the new millenium.

: Rossi is worried that she’s obsessing on 9.11.

I think I’ve become the Norma Rae of 9/11.


I’m starting to make myself (and evidently all or most of my friends) rather ill as I stand grim-faced on a table and hold a sign that reads, “WTC!”

It’s not that I’m not interested in moving on.

It’s just that, the more time goes by, the less other people talk about it, the more I feel obligated to fill in the gap.

I know the feeling. That’s why I keep this blog, so I obsess on 9.11 here and act normal in public. Let’s make this just our secret, eh?

A mitzvah
: Somebody bought away Rossi‘s Blogspot ad. She asked where it was me, since I’m a fan. I had to admit it wasn’t. But I decided this means I should do it for somebody else. I did it for a nice Catholic mom’s site. Congregationalist performs mitvah for Catholic. Ah, the diversity of the blog.

The mother of invention
: There’s a war raging around him but Israeli blogger Tal G is innovating for blogdom. He calls it a killer ap. I wouldn’t use that phrase where he is. Anyway…

So here’s an idea: a tool – call it PunditPal – that presents pre-specified “third party” content together with web pages viewed. So suppose you like James Lileks – when you browse to some outrageous NY Times article that Lileks has ripped apart(and linked to), his takedown would automatically appear in a separate pane.

: Matt Welch adds two cents to the plans for blog newspapers (below).

I think one main other thing the best bloggers bring, is a kind of personality that is no longer easily found at newspapers, due to the effects of cookie-cutter professionalization, monopoly hierarchy, or weird luck…. The audience has latched on to some of the bloggers for precisely this reason, I think, and a newspaper — local or national — could liven up their pages considerably simply by doing a better job at recognizing emerging talent, some of which is right in their back yard.

Note, too the crossover artists. No, not Dolly Parton. I mean James Lileks.

The Daily Blog
: Glenn Reynolds has a vision of the future of news that I’ve been playing with for sometime (and I know a few other very smart people who are playing with variations on the same theme… and you know who you are): Blogs as a new generation of online national newspapers.

Essential to this vision is the assumption that news is becoming a commodity. News is not a commodity when you get real reporters doing real reporting and uncovering real news; witness the Pulitizers this season and how the big boys with the big resources managed to tackle the 9.11 story and truly inform us.

But workaday news coverage — of press conferences, press releases, earnings announcements, trials, campaigns, even games — is pretty much a commodity, whether it’s in print or on TV (that’s why broadcast and news networks keep talking about pooling resources) or on radio (that’s how Metro can provide vanilla news to radio stations just as it provides vanilla, private-labeled traffic) or online. You and I can all watch the same presidential press conference and the people sitting in that room with George hear nothing different from what we hear and add no real value; that is commodity news. In his Tech Central Station column, Reynolds recognizes the impact of this trend even in big newspapers:

The sad truth is that even top-of-the-line mainstream news institutions like The New York Times are becoming more like webloggers all the time, cutting the size and number of foreign bureaus, and relying more and more on wire services for original reporting to which they add commentary and “news analysis.” That opens an opportunity for a widely-dispersed network of individuals to make a contribution.

The big thing that mainstream journalism brings is reach and trustworthiness. Critics of media bias may joke about the latter, but though reporters for outlets like Reuters or The New York Times may — and do — slant their reporting from time to time, their affiliation with institutions that have a long-term interest in reputation limits how far they can go. When you rely on a report from one of those journalistic organs, you’re relying on their reputation.

And so where does this lead? In Reynolds’ view:

An organization that put together a network of freelance journalists under a framework that allowed for that [Amazon] sort of reputation-rating, and that paid based on the number of pageviews and the ratings that each story received, would be more like a traditional newspaper than like a weblog, but it would still be a major change from the newspapers of today. Interestingly, it might well be possible to knit together a network of webloggers into the beginnings of such an organization. With greater reach and lower costs than a traditional newspaper, it might bring something new and competitive to the news business.

It’s important to focus on who is bringing what value to the audience. Bloggers — individually and as a group — bring two things of value, as I see it:

The first and (some would disagree) most important value is selection. Bloggers (with or without lives) spend a great deal of time combing the Web and other media (witness the various Punditwatches) to find the best (and worst) of what’s being reported; they sift so you don’t have to. Individually, some are great at this (starting with the amazing Professor Reynolds himself). Collectively, the world of bloggers is also good at spotting and creating buzz (see Blogdex and Daypop). That is why I got this domain name: We are a buzzmachine.

The second value bloggers bring is perspective. Bloggers ask questions and poke holes and give their opinions about the news everybody has and that makes the news often more interesting or just entertaining. That is why most bloggers do it.

But traditional news organizations bring value that bloggers do not, besides real reporting. They bring consistency and reliability and jugment. I can read my favorite five or 10 bloggers every day and I will not get as complete and well-rounded a view of the world as I would leafing throught the New York Times because there are many things in there that are important, that I need to know, but that did not happen to interest my set of bloggers. The New York Times and my local paper also bring news judgment; you can quibble with their choices but you cannot quibble with the notion that they give me an easy way to find out what’s most important today.

And there is a fourth element of news value that bloggers (apart from one I can name) do not bring: Local. A vision of a blog newspaper works nationally; it is the new USA Today. But right now, it’s hard to bring real local reporting and news to the venture; that will remain a strength of local newspapers (along with local advertising and classified). And, yes, I am associated professionally with local newspapers; I know their strength (and the wise newspaper person recognizes the potential of weblogs as well).

Still, Reynolds is right: There is the start of something new here. I just hope I’m part of it. Glenn Reynolds, Nick Denton, Ken Layne, or Matt Welch — just keep me in mind.

: Eric Olsen has many thoughts and posts on this and on blog traffic here.

: This made me glad I’m not in school anymore.

Middle East 101
: A good graphic primer on the origins of the Middle East war(s) from the Guardian.