Posts from October 28, 2004

When news is history

When news is history

: Arrived in Boston. Couldn’t find a local paper anywhere: sold out; collectors’ editions. Just passed by the newsstand at Harvard Square and saw a guy walking proudly down the street with a handful of Globes as if he’d just snagged the last Tickle Me Elmo at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve.

The good PDF

The good PDF

: The Personal Democracy Forum has launched its ambitious new site here under the leadership of Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry. Go take a read.

Forbidden visuals

Forbidden visuals

: Did we really need to see Arafat in his PJs?

Snot The New York Times

Snot The New York Times

: Two stories in The New York Times really got under by blogger’s craw this morning as I flew up to World Series Town:

In the Circuits section, they chronicled the rise of cat-blogging (without getting the essential joke that these folks are making fun of those who make fun of bloggers as folks who just put up pictures of their cats). The lead:

In the vitriolic world of political Web logs, two polar extremes are Eschaton (, a liberal, often anti-Bush site with a passionate following, and Instapundit (, where an equally fervent readership goes for hearty praise of the Administration.

It would seem unlikely that the two blogs’ authors could see eye-to-eye about anything. Yet Eschaton’s Duncan Black (known as Atrios) and Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds have both taken part in a growing practice: turning over a blog on Friday to cat photographs.

Vitriolic? Vitriolic? I’ll show you vitriolic!

That makes us look like a bunch of frothing nutjobs. It is essentially condescending and insulting.

Then this Jim Rutenberg story in the news section wrote about bloggers dogging big media on issues of accuracy and fairness. Well, good, about time. But this, too, paints us as more of an angry mob than a sensible bunch of people who happen to be citizens and voters and newspaper readers. By making us look so angry, it marginalizes us as cultish.

Journalists covering the campaign believe the intent is often to bully them into caving to a particular point of view. They insist the efforts have not swayed them in any significant way, though others worry the criticism could eventually have a chilling effect…

The harshest criticism comes from sites with openly political leanings….

But the most personal critiques originate among the political blogs – especially from the left – run by individuals who use news media reports for their often-heated discussions.

Many sites urge visitors to personally call reporters and news organizations and send e-mail messages, which can number in the hundreds daily….

The New York Times is also a favorite target of critics of all political persuasions. The paper came in for particularly harsh criticism on conservative sites this week for its article about the disappearance of 380 tons of powerful explosives from an Iraqi military complex….

On a Web site named after Adam Nagourney, The Times’s chief political correspondent, contributors mix crude personal insults with accusations that Mr. Nagourney and other Washington-based reporters are too easy on Mr. Bush.

The NBC anchor Tom Brokaw recently likened the tone of the Internet coverage of the CBS National Guard report, presented by the anchor Dan Rather, to a “political jihad.” In an interview last week Mr. Brokaw said CBS News had clearly made mistakes. But, he said, “I think there were people just lying in the Internet bushes, waiting to strike, and I think that particular episode gave them a big opportunity.”

Add up those bits and we look like a hate squad going on attack.

Well, Mr. Rutenberg, think there might be another angle to the story, eh? Perhaps it’s that big media is messing up and has had no check for too long. Perhaps it’s that once-passive readers now have their own press and have something to say and it’s time for you to listen. Perhaps if you try hard to open your eyes and read your own story again, you might smell a bias here — against the public you supposedly serve.

The whole world is watching

The whole world is watching

: Seth Godin has an intriguing post (of course) on the notion that behavior changes when you know someone is watching.

Technology allows the world to watch. Seth wonders whether rudely stupid, stupidly rude clerks in a store would be such bozos if there were cameras on them — that is, if they knew they were being watched.

What are weblogs and the internet doing to irritate the powerful in media (see the next post, above) and politics and business but enable the people to watch?

We can take pictures of you if you’re behaving like a bozo. We can take video of you. We can write about it. We can put it on the internet for all the world to see.