Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oracular Whatzisname?

I don't check ol' Warren K's blog as much as I used to, but I decided to stop by on a whim, and lit upon a very nice bit of prediction retconning:

Number six was right. Bloggers are soon to be declared the Pet Rock of the digital age by the mainstream media. While I think such a declaration is premature, there is no question that bloggers are breaking far fewer stories, and having markedly less impact on the public affairs agenda. Bold blogger prediction for 2008: a few of them, somewhere, are going to defy me and break a big story, and shame the MSM. And me.
You may wonder "what's number six, exactly?" So did I. It's from an old piece from last year predicting the future:

6. Bloggers will continue to believe they are supplanting the mainstream media, when - in fact - the data will show that the growth and influence of blogs is waning.
Now, he may have a point about Canadian blogs. There is no DailyKos in Canada, no Eschaton, nor even an Instapundit, not really. The vibrant communities aren't there, especially among progressives, who seem bound and determined to have Liberal vs. NDP sniping wars.

(Egged on, partially, by whatzisname himself, who seems to have severe trouble with the concept of hypotheticals)

No, it isn't as vibrant, though anybody who thinks that Michael Geist isn't required reading--and influential as hell--is absolutely delusional. His blog is, bar none, the best resource on copyright reform going, and he's the beating heart of the fight to keep the Canadian equivalent of fair use alive, and to defend it across North America.

(It is, thus, not terribly surprising that a google search for the word "Geist" on the site of the media columnist for the National Post turns up absolutely nothing. Nor does the Professor have a place on said media columnist's blogroll.)

But I don't think that's what he was talking about. I think he was talking about blogs in toto. And, as usual, he just doesn't get it. Bloggers aren't journalists. Not really. Bloggers rarely conduct interviews, and never really "broke" stories in the first place. What most bloggers are are commentators. We don't compete with the New York Times or the Washington Post's front page. We compete with its Op-Ed page. We compete with all those paid drones spinning away on CNN, given the opportunity to state their opinion just because they happened to be on a producer's rolodex. And, yes, we compete with Warren himself, because at the end of the day, you could probably slot in any number of bloggers' content in Warren's column on the National Post's website and nobody would even know the difference. Bloggers are pundits, Mr. K. We just happen to be volunteers.

The major American opinion journals understand this, which is why people like Matthew Yglesias and my (after a fashion) Blogson* Ezra Klein are doing what they do. That Warren doesn't understand this should be baffling.

Pity that it isn't.

Oh, and as for the "impact on the public agenda?" Prof. Geist killed your buddy Stevie's copyright bill. Funny that a media columnist would miss that, huh?

*(Supposedly I was the one who got the ball rolling on Ezra's career. Always been proud of that. He's a damned good writer.)

(Oh, and Ezra, if you're reading this, somebody spammed that page in Chinese.)

Edit: Ah, almost forgot. You probably shouldn't say blogs are irrelevant in a world where Paul Krugman's blog exists. Sorry, but any given post on the good Professor's blog is better than anything Whatzisname has ever committed to paper or screen.

(His book's better, too.)

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