Living in the past

Living in the past

: Marshall Loeb just wrote a blog-belittling column at Marketwatch. I have some personal history on this with Marshall, who’s a very nice guy, and so let me start there. We worked together years ago at Time Inc.

Didn’t hear from Marshall for years upon years. But a few weeks ago, he found himself on a panel about blogging at some press association or another and so he called me to find out what this blogging this is all about. He said he didn’t know a thing. I filled him in as best I could in 20 minutes as I dashed from meeting to meeting in New York. Apparently, I was bad salesman now Marsh delivers his blog broadside, a bit late to the party:

Blogging can be both a cost-effective and time-efficient way of connecting with people, providing many benefits that can enrich your life.

Some of the benefits are:

* Creating a family network of blogs to keep yourselves updated on the goings-on of your far-away relatives.

* Turning blogs into scrapbooks where you can upload and post digital photos. This saves you the cost of getting film processed, and sharing your blog with others is free.

* Encouraging your young children to create a blog that keeps track of their daily activities and chores. Also, your new college-bound kids can keep blogs so that you won’t feel like they’re so far away.

So those are the benefits of blogs: quaint personal, family gimmicks. But dangers lurk there.

But not everything is perfect, and here are some warnings about blogs:

* Don’t trust everything you read in blogs. While more and more news organizations and companies are creating blogs of their own, many blogs are filled with false information.

* Never keep a blog in which you trash the company you work for or your boss. Also, never put your company’s sensitive or inside information in your blog. There have already been cases in which people have been fired for blogging about their employers. It might be tempting to use a blog to vent your work-related frustrations, but it could come back to haunt you.

* Don’t give out too much personal information in your blog. Even using your real name, rather than a pseudonym, puts you at risk. We live in an age of identity theft and you don’t want to unwittingly give thieves a road map to your personal records or financial information.

Well, thanks. Next, can you tell us how to get rid of that dangnabbed flashing 12 on our VCRs?

Marshall was, by the way, the executive at Time Inc. who first rejected my proposal for Entertainment Weekly — six years before it ended up launching. As the head of magazine development, he parrotted the words of Henry Grunwald, then editor-in-chief of Time Inc., saying that such a magazine about the full range of entertainment could not possibly succeed because people who watch TV do not read. Ahem.

  • Shouldn’t this line:

    * Don’t trust everything you read in blogs. While more and more news organizations and companies are creating blogs of their own, many blogs are filled with false information.

    instead have read:

    * Don’t trust everything you read in blogs. Since more and more news organizations and companies are creating blogs of their own, many blogs are filled with false information.

  • I can understand Mr. Loeb’s dislike and distrust of the blogging thing. For years he has hectored thousands, maybe even millions, of other people with his views of the world without having to listen to them tell him what they think. Not only does he and every other journalist now have to adjust to listening to what’s really being discussed by real people with real opinions, they have to pay attention to it and factor it into their reporting.
    I love it and I’m looking forward to reading lots more ‘dire warnings’ from journalists about the dangers of blogs.

  • Rapscallion Jones

    He didn’t like the idea for Entertainment Weekly? What an idiot! Can I assume he’s also the guy who made you give “Pretty Woman” thaat crappy review?

  • Isaiah

    It seems to me that most of what Loeb posted is common sense, and an exercise in basic identity safety when using the internet. Perhaps Mr. Jarvis envisions a world where we can all post our social security numbers, bank account info, and credit card statements with impunity, but we ain’t quite there yet.
    In the meantime, let’s try not to have a coronary over an article clearly written for people who know nothing about blogging (unlike Mr. Jarvis, presumably).

  • Who said anything about posting social security numbers? Jeesh.
    And when they finish the article, they still know nothing.
    It misses the point of this: Now we all have a printing press, not just Time Inc. And a good thing it is.

  • Easiest way to get rid of the flashing 12:00 on your VCR is to cover it with a piece of duct tape. I have plenty of easier-to-read clocks around the house. I don’t need another one on a machine I bought so we can watch movies.

  • … “because people who watch TV do not read”.

  • At this point in the development of blogging such a lightly informed column raises a question of competence. I have been amazed at how little many traditional journalists feel they have to know about the Web in order to make the judgments they make.

  • Isaiah

    Although this whole thing seems to have taken a turn for the absurd, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to point out yet another glaringly obvious aspect of the Marketwatch column. Loeb, who writes money tips, attempted to write a user-friendly guide to blogs from the angle of how they can assist or possibly harm someone financially. After having read it numerous times, I’m certain this column was intended as a basic overview of blogging from the perspective of a financial analyst, not as the definitive word on the subject. Given his background in finance, Loeb’s basic (and logical) suggestions about “blogging” have nothing to do with competence, and everything to do with BASIC IDENTITY SAFETY. As journalists, I would have assumed that Jarvis and Rosen would have had the investigative know-how to accurately identify the source of the column, rather than a thoroughly unnecessary knee-jerk.
    Finally, I’m surprised no one has bothered to comment on Jarvis’ petty ad hominem attacks, namely a long-standing hostility centered on Loeb’s rejection of Jarvis’ original proposal of Entertainment Weekly several years ago. I can only imagine that Jarvis cited his ruthless jilting as an example of Loeb being perpetually “out of the loop,” but it’s entirely irrelevant to the discussion. Sadly, this situation seems less like a bunch of rogue journalists crusading for a voice, and more like a bunch of upstarts slandering the stuffy old guy.
    Besides, I didn’t think “people who read” read Entertainment Weekly.

  • Isaiah, I read Marshall Loeb’s article. To my mind, he was belittling the blogging phenomenon and doing it not just from a financial perspective, though I agree with your view on Entertainment Weekly!