The interview of the dinosaurs

The interview of the dinosaurs

: There will be many snarking links — all deservedly nasty, I’m sure — to Adam Clayton Powell III’s interview with NY Times technology writer John Markoff at OJR trying to dismiss weblogs. The question is as bad as the answer:

Q: Well, you’ve touched on a really central concern of a lot of people — over the last 10 years, if not longer — particularly among journalists who, I guess you could say, are more traditional, who look ahead and see all these pitfalls that are coming — of people who suddenly start creating content who don’t have the same standards as, well, The New York Times. Do you see that as an issue or are we beyond that now?

Pitfalls? That’s a fine way to frame the question, Mr. Powell. No leading, no prejudice, no bias there, eh?

How about the opportunity this presents: More people giving us more information from more perspectives. If you cared about informing the public, you’d see the benefit in that. Pitfall, indeed. Now Markoff spouts:

JM: Well, I’m of two minds. I certainly can see that scenario, where all these new technologies may only be good enough to destroy all the old standards but not create something better to replace them with. I think that’s certainly one scenario.

Pardon me for interrupting, but that made no frigging sense whatsoever. Can you parse that for me, Mr. Markoff? Or do you need an editor to speak sense? How do new standards “destroy” old standards? Something won’t become a “standard” unless it is accepted by someone in power — the publishers or the audiences. This isn’t a game of PacMan.

The other possibility right now — it sometimes seems we have a world full of bloggers and that blogging is the future of journalism, or at least that’s what the bloggers argue, and to my mind, it’s not clear yet whether blogging is anything more than CB radio.

The reference is as old-farty and out-of-date as the sentiment. It’s clear that Markoff isn’t reading weblogs and doesn’t know what’s there.

Hey, fool, that’s your audience talking there. You should want to listen to what they have to say. You are, after all, spending your living writing for them. If you were a reporter worth a damn, you’d care to know what the marketplace cares about. But, no, you’re the mighty NYT guy. You don’t need no stinking audience. You don’t need ears. You only need a mouth.

And, you know, give it five or 10 years and see if any institutions emerge out of it. It’s possible that in the end there may be some small subset of people who find a livelihood out of it and that the rest of the people will find that, you know, keeping their diaries online is not the most useful thing to with their time.

Well isn’t that condescending. “Keeping their diaries online.” Again, it’s clear that the guy hasn’t read them. I tell you what I eat only once a month (at Burger King … and I’ll have a post later today on that new mustard chicken sandwich, by the way). The rest of the time, we tend to talk about, oh, politics, war, society, technology, religion… just the kinds of things that the New York Times tries to put on its front frigging page.

When I tell that to people