In his maiden post in a new Corante blog, former Big Media online guy Bob Cauthorn engages in a most unfortunate (and quite overwritten) exercise in new-media blog-snobbery :
Memo to mainstream media: You don’t get to blog.
You have a publishing apparatus. So you don’t get to blog. You have a broadcasting apparatus. So you don’t get to blog.
In case you missed this the point while you were reading up on youth slang, I’ll repeat it for emphasis. You. Do. Not. Get. To. Blog.
Who are you, Cauthorn, to say who can and who cannot blog?
You are trying to import the worst traits of old, big media — exclusion, snobbishness, the closed club — to citizens’ media. And it is most unbecoming, especially since you served in both worlds, since you yourself are a mainstream media guy who is now, uh, bloging (can you smell the irony, Bob?). You make fun of “a very senior, 50-something editor at a well-known American newspaper” but, you know, Bob, you’re looking a little long in the tooth yourself, fella. And once upon a time, don’t you remember, you saw online for the first time. You learned new tricks, dog. Why can’t that old fart (who happens to be my age, by the way)? I thought ours was the new medium of inclusion. But not according to you.
Now, of course, there are countless clueless blogs from big media people, who think this is just another publishing tool and that they must publish with it. There are too many “blogging” columnists who don’t know what the hell a link is. I, too, always tell big media folks that their first response to blogging should be to read, not to write — that we have owned the printing press for centuries and now, at last, the people own the press and they’re speaking and it’s our turn to listen. Oh, on that, we agree.
But to say that someone should not blog? That is importing the very worst of old media into new, creating a closed society. You’re building a pedestal, putting yourself above and apart from an audience, just like old media, just like Dan Rather. And we know that he had a fall and that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Dan back together again. Beware, Bob: Don’t set yourself — and bloggers — up for such a fall.
Once the big-media guys do read blogs and listen to them and link to them and respect them, I do believe there is some value in them blogging, too, for one good reason: They join the conversation.
Read Steve Baker and Heather Green at Business Week, an old, big media outlet if there ever was one. They enter into a conversation with their public. They ask for help from readers, even soliciting questions they should ask in interviews. They explain how things happen behind the scenes at their big, old mag. They engage their critics at eye level. They are a great example of what can happen if big-media reporters and editors take blogging seriously and realize that it is a new opportunity to build a new relationship with the public they serve. They have everything to gain from that and so do their readers (and now fellow conversationalists). I can point to other examples, at The Guardian, for example (but, sadly, not at your old newspaper).
But you would cut these saplings off before they could sprout. You ridicule these efforts. For shame.
How much better it would be if you took your experience working for (cough) big media and (ahem) blogs and suggested how your former colleagues should approach this new and wonderful world. Instead, you slam the door in their face and then stick your tongue out at them from the other side.
This is how bloggers get a bad reputation. This is how journalism got a bad reputation. We should know better.
: LATER: Rex Hammock, a fellow 50ish (sorry, Rex) old-media blogger piles on:
I’ll confess, I’m a die-hard old-media guy and, frankly, the only thing I know about blogging comes from making a few thousand posts on this weblog since 1990 and reading, perhaps, a few hundred thousand posts on other blogs during that same time. But despite this limited knowledge, my brief foray into the whole blogosphere thing has taught me this: The first rule of blogging is, “never attempt to make up rules about blogging.” The second rule of blogging is, “if you think God has called you to be the Moses of blogging, please wait a few months after coming down from the mountain-top before issuing your commandments.” And the third rule of blogging is, never use the word “jiggy.”