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Blogs go mainstream
December 23, 2002 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Washington salutes its new Blog Overlords When Trent Lott finally fell from (g)race last friday, the ensuing MeFi thread discussed how Lott's statements were at first a sleeper in the mainstream media but that the blogosphere forced the story onto the front pages. However, this theory was met with some scepticism However, the theory of blog ascendancy has legs. In fact, the story is all over the place this morning. With this level of discussion, right or wrong, Blogs just arguably went mainstream. (It might also be the end of our golden era of blogging.) There are greater and lesser blogs. Its hard to tell which blog deserves the credit for toppling Lott. How will they determine the alpha blog? The winner could be the next "Drudge".
posted by BentPenguin (43 comments total)

 
"Bloggers are navel-gazers," said Elizabeth Osder, a visiting professor at The University of Southern California's School of Journalism. "And they're about as interesting as friends who make you look at their scrap books."

Well, I'm glad to see broad generalizations haven't disappeared from the journalistic bag of tricks. Whew, I was nervous for a second.

Next.
posted by jeremias at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2002


"golden age of blogging"

Thanks, I just snarfed on my keyboard.
posted by jammer at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2002


whats a snarf?
posted by BentPenguin at 7:54 AM on December 23, 2002


What's a blog?
posted by adampsyche at 7:56 AM on December 23, 2002


snarf
posted by jazon at 7:57 AM on December 23, 2002


That would be your Middle C on the Case or Talking Points Meme.

I cite Instapundit.
posted by y2karl at 7:58 AM on December 23, 2002


The most recent NPR's On The Media covered this quite well.
listen to the archive here (real player required).
posted by dong_resin at 7:59 AM on December 23, 2002


I hereby retire the word blogosphere.
posted by machaus at 8:00 AM on December 23, 2002


snarf: definition #5.
posted by Vidiot at 8:04 AM on December 23, 2002


Question: Who the hell is Trent Lott? I've seen this in blogs all over the place, but not mainstream news. Methinks its Americans only...
posted by Orange Goblin at 8:07 AM on December 23, 2002


You can't retire Blogosphere without at least suggesting a replacement.

Blogomondo ?
Blogiverse ?
Blog-geist ?
Haughey-land ?

posted by BentPenguin at 8:08 AM on December 23, 2002


You can't retire Blogosphere without at least suggesting a replacement.

Selffulfillingprophecyosphere...
posted by machaus at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2002


Wow. New routes of information transfer are spreading information in new ways.

Stop the presses.
posted by mediareport at 8:20 AM on December 23, 2002 [1 favorite]


How much of this press is due to the fact that some blogs just wouldn't shut up about how they kept the story going. It's all a bit too much mutual masturbation for me...
posted by PenDevil at 8:33 AM on December 23, 2002


how much of this is due to mainstream media not reporting certain news items ?
it certainly looks like the power of the mainstream media could be eroded by these pesky critters....
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:47 AM on December 23, 2002


warning! danger! imaginary verbal constructs ahead! cyberspace does not exist. therefore it cannot contain anything, much less something called a blogosphere. why do people turn into mumbo-jumbo spouting jetson cartoon "cybernauts" when you put a computer in front of them? because they've all been sucked into the cosmic assholosphere.
posted by quonsar at 9:38 AM on December 23, 2002


ann coulter: life in the bitchosphere.
posted by quonsar at 9:40 AM on December 23, 2002


Blogosphere... isn't that the ride near those spinning tea-cups? Or is it part of Epcot?
posted by crunchland at 9:46 AM on December 23, 2002


assholosphere ...snicker...

Q, please give pronunciation guide.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2002


Uh. Yeah, the golden age of blogging. You know, it's just your personal web site. You are not the "media," and your opinions are only read by the masses of bored office workers for their entertainment value. No one actually cares about your views on politics, your opinions on movies, or whether or not you think your local sports team will make it all the way.

I'm not saying you shouldn't express those opinions in any way you see fit, but you're getting way ahead of yourself if you think that your blog, or even lots of blogs saying the same thing (as they always seem to do) has any impact whatsoever on the general media.
posted by endquote at 9:56 AM on December 23, 2002


The idea is to not replace the word 'blogosphere' at all. Refer to blogs, bloggers and those that read them any way you want, but they do not form a collective entity that behaves with a singular force. Remember, the word was initially used as a joke poking fun at those trying to create words for something that doesn't exist.
posted by yonderboy at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2002


Real media outlets have the disadvantage of trying to stay relatively unbiased. Joe Blogger with his k-rad website with greymatter installed can spout whatever drivel happens to land in his skull and type it out.

Real media checks sources, and at least tries to be somewhat credible. Joe Blogger (and Joe Metafilter-user, for that matter), can type up any sputum he happened to divine off of Blogdex.

If you run a blog and are gratified by this news, goody goody for your shallow self-esteem. Otherwise, get over your bad self.
posted by crunchland at 10:03 AM on December 23, 2002


ps. 8 entries on google's news page is hardly "all over the place." At best, I'd call that a smattering.
posted by crunchland at 10:15 AM on December 23, 2002


OK, I'll admit it. I was the one that got Trent Lott to resign.

If you read the news, you'll see that his resignation was handwritten!
posted by Argyle at 10:23 AM on December 23, 2002


Real media outlets have the disadvantage of trying to stay relatively unbiased.

crunchland, have you watched the news or read the papers lately? Unbiased, my ass.
posted by lia at 11:25 AM on December 23, 2002


but you're getting way ahead of yourself if you think that your blog, or even lots of blogs saying the same thing (as they always seem to do) has any impact whatsoever on the general media.

You're arguing that it had no impact? How do you arrive at such a conclusion?
posted by BentPenguin at 12:05 PM on December 23, 2002


The winner could be the next "Drudge".

A very dubious distinction indeed.

A small handful of bloggers and websites like this one are now part of the daily round-up that journalists look at. All it takes is one or two of these "meme source" sites to hit on the same topic for more than a day to get the journalists thinking they'd better write about it for fear of looking like they're not "in touch" with the latest thing. Beats having to get up off their asses and do any real reporting.

All the stories now about bloggers triggering the Lott story are just more lazy reporters re-wording what they read here last week (or on those self-aggrandizing "pundit" blogs).

(Yes, you, all you lazy-ass reporters who lurk on MeFi all day looking for easy stories, I'm talking about you).
posted by briank at 12:19 PM on December 23, 2002


Must...get...in on this!!!

Blogs, by their very form, extrapolate from existing media, mostly wire stories and badly written opinion pieces. Now, any news story is automatically three steps removed from actual fact to begin with (context changes when a reporter enters, editing filters, requirements of the newspaper form, any latent biases in reporting/editing, etc.). But in the pre-Net days, you'd have your water cooler gang bitch about those "ain't life fucked up" news stories, have someone bitch about (insert victim/group here) should have their head(s) handed to them, decline of Western civilization, etc., but nothing would really happen.

Now, though, you have thousands upon thousands of people reacting to the same badly-written, ripped-out-of-context news story, and the noise level is so much higher. Congratulations - it's an ill-informed mob! They're operating within gestalts on a national scale! Go you! And if the outcries of the mob have nothing to do with the actual situation - well, occasionally the mob has to be appeased, lest it get out of hand, right?

Trent Lott, an older man from Mississippi, racist? The fuck you say! What did our fabulous bloggers do, in the end? Now Trent can't be Majority Leader anymore, and Karl Rove gets to set things up even sweeter for his pet President. It's not exactly reporting the truth about a Venezuelan coup, is it? I would love to see a few bloggers reporting the news as they see it from places like, say, Palestine (and if they are, please point them out to me), rather than see a pack of white-bread C++ programmers with zero life experience dictate their opinions about a Washington Post story. Bloggers are creating a world of Lileks - reactionary, hateful, and speaking about things that they not only know nothing about, but aren't even an accurate representation of reality. (And this goes for all political bents, not merely Lileks' particular brand of neoconservatism.)

When bloggers report on breaking news - actually report, rather than regurgitate and parrot existing info - then that's when they'll go mainstream, and that's when they'll replace corporate-owned media. Till then, it's just more daisy-chaining, and more noise from the mob.
posted by solistrato at 12:25 PM on December 23, 2002


The phenomenon of the web turning a sleeper story in mainstream media into a barnburner is discussed in Steven Johnson's book Emergence for anyone who's interested.
posted by holycola at 12:28 PM on December 23, 2002


Thanks for reminding me that I have yet to read Lileks bleats from the weekend, sjc. Gotta get my daily dose of reactionary hatred.
posted by jammer at 12:35 PM on December 23, 2002


Er... Lileks doesn't bleat on the weekend. Just need to catch up on today. Must think before raising to trollbait... ;)
posted by jammer at 12:37 PM on December 23, 2002


When bloggers report on breaking news - actually report, rather than regurgitate and parrot existing info - then that's when they'll go mainstream, and that's when they'll replace corporate-owned media. Till then, it's just more daisy-chaining, and more noise from the mob.

*applauds wildly*

Bears repeating again and again, doesn't it? Very few bloggers actually do any original reporting. Josh Marshall, Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan are three who do regularly, which is why their blogs stand way above the rest as must-reading.
posted by mediareport at 12:51 PM on December 23, 2002


sjc: Talking Points Memo doesn't strike me as the typical daisy-chain type blog. Marshall still shouldn't bother replying to some insane kausfiles statement, etc. But it's not a "insta-brain fart" site. Besides, one of my own reactions to reading the Lott story here on metafilter (before I'd read about it elsewhere) was, Why is this not being talked about more? It's reached a level of insanity now, though. I'm so glad Instapundit is against racism. It sure does make life better for all of us. Maybe Instapundit can join the chorus in singing Bono's new tune about Nelson Mandela, then go back to his blog and question whether Clinton really liked Mandela.

Meantime, while all older white men in Mississippi probably have racial biases, examined or not, some deal with them quite well. Take former Gov. William Winter, who is hated by neo-Confederates.
posted by raysmj at 12:57 PM on December 23, 2002


mediareport: Are you serious? Sullivan and kaus, along with Instapundit, are the epitome the punditry blog daisy chain thing.
posted by raysmj at 1:04 PM on December 23, 2002


Are you serious? Sullivan and kaus, along with Instapundit, are the epitome the punditry blog daisy chain thing.

I'll give you Reynolds (he rarely even tries to add anything new to online discussions, lazily preferring to dole out approving nods and offhand dismissals without argument), but Sullivan, Marshall and Kaus (far less than he used to, granted) regularly take time to dig up new information and offer interesting twists to mainstream news. Marshall's dissection of the current National Review cover story's ridiculous distortions about the South Dakota voting "fraud" is a perfect example.

Just because a blog is popular (and, in Sullivan's case, hilariously prone to self-aggrandizement) doesn't mean it can't also be a solid source. Even though I often disagree with Kaus and Sullivan and find Sullivan's kneejerk hysteria grating, I still recognize the thoughtful intelligence and solid work that shows up routinely in their blogs.
posted by mediareport at 1:20 PM on December 23, 2002


Why read Blogs?
- Noncommittal access to a myriad of perspectives.
- The writing of many a weblog author is insightful, skillful, and enjoyable, regardless of their personal opinions.
- Some people possess an almost supernatural ability to fact check the shit out of "mainstream media" reports, which is helpful in terms of getting a beat on potential slant slipping through the "impartial" filter.

Why Blog?
I can't speak for others but I started a weblog because I wanted a place to keep a running library of links to information I'd like to keep handy, crystalize my thoughts, enhance my written communication skills, and blow off steam--even if nobody cared to read it.
I pretty much operate on the selfish motive of sharpening my mind behind it. For instance, I've noticed that my instinct to more thoroughly research something before I commit to an opinion is stronger now than it was before; there's got to be some merit in that. And, then, sometimes just getting something off my mind - in that "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore" way - seems to restore a sliver of my sanity.
All in all, weblogs are akin to OpEd columns--completely subjective--and should be taken with a grain of salt.

sjc,
It surprises me that Lileks' conservatism is the most remarkable feature of his Bleats to you. I've been known to laugh so hard that I actually tear up, reading his delightful accounts of raising Gnat.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2002


mediareport: I didn't even mention Marshall in my list of Daisy Chainers, and in fact explicitly left him out earlier. The rest are recognized by most normal media watchers as pundits who link to the same people all the time.
posted by raysmj at 9:08 PM on December 23, 2002


pundits who link to the same people all the time

I see that clearly with Instapundit, raysmj; the site's been dry of new ideas for months, if not since Reynolds shot his WaRblOg wad after 9/11. But Sullivan was all over the Lott thing, for just one example, hammering home sharp point after sharp point not mentioned elsewhere. And Kaus, while obviously coasting compared to his early blogging, still brings interesting info and perspective to his (now fairly predictable) pokes.

Marshall currently holds the One Ring to rule them all, of course. ;)
posted by mediareport at 9:18 PM on December 23, 2002


Blogs are like the cable news networks (Fox, CNN, MSNBC). They (we) take the wire reports from AP and company, spin tales out of them and postulate till the dogs come home.
posted by owillis at 12:39 AM on December 24, 2002


Lileks?

"with the practiced eye of a German in a Thai brothel."

He drops little turds like that in every other bleat. His writing talent is substantial, but he is provincial in the ugliest manner.

When Gnat is exposed to "The Wizard of Oz", the Scarecrow will will be as familiar as an old family friend.
posted by dglynn at 12:51 AM on December 24, 2002


The winner could be the next "Drudge".

What a colossal disincentive.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:47 AM on December 24, 2002


reynolds is the man ! reynolds will change the course of history ! gogo reynolds !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:37 AM on December 24, 2002


soundbitten is a good blog.
posted by delmoi at 6:58 AM on December 25, 2002


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