Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Back in the BlogHouse: Now I'm *really* pissed!
(Follows is my email to Andrew Orlowski after reading his piece. You may complain that my publishing of it is everything I accuse him of, I will not demur. All I will say is that the cathartic nature of the exercise was necessary to preventing a catastrophic hypertensive event occuring within my person.)


I think that you have missed the point, somewhat, of the recent spat between Chris Locke (as the self appointed representative of all that blogs) and John C Dvorak (as the self appointed representative of all that journalises.)

Interesting first, to consider these words, for a blog *is* a journal, albeit a public one and not usually for any fee.

As I recently commented on the Gonzo Marketing - Engaged blog (http://gonzoengaged.blogspot.com/), a blog specifically dedicated by its instigator to the discussion of Chris' later work "Gonzo Marketing", the net is the threat.

It is difficult for an observer/participant to not conclude that some element of the hostility of Dvorak for blogging as a phenomena in its own right (as opposed to the content of many blogs, which is admittedly puerile, self referential and ultimately irrelevant) has its source in whatever competitive threat such things might be perceived to represent by those who make their living from the more usual (historically) sort.

As much as blogs, a similarly high proportion of professional journalism is self referential, self serving, puerile, and simply wrong, wrong-headed, and contemptible.

Blogs do indeed, lower the average cost of journalising. and therefore, to the extent that they fulfill some innate (and apparently universal) desire to read the contents of other peoples journals, they represent a competitive threat to professional journalists.

Secondarily, I was struck by the plethora of assumptions underlying your assertions regarding the valuable qualities of journalism as you (attempt to) practice it; to wit, that "new stuff" or "news" is the primary valuable quality. As a well-read Christian who acknowledges the truth in the statement "there is nothing new under the sun" I won't shock you by contrarily asserting that there is great merit in a great many things that are neither new nor news, and that ideas are at least every bit as powerful as current events and news of them will ever be.

The age of these ideas is simply irrelevant to their world-shaping power, and I cannot help but think that in another context a man who makes his living in an occupation exemplified by the idea that "the pen is mightier than the sword" might be inclined to be more agreeable to this particular idea as I have stated it!

I say, parenthetically, that you "attempt to" practice your self styled journalism as the presentation of new stuff simply because, contrariwise, those of us who blog knew about the ongoing contretemps between Locke and Dvorak long before you or both of your readers ever did.

Which brings me to another point: the self styled representation of which Locke is assumed in your missive to be the arch-duke of blogdom is precisely mirrored by Dvoraks self referential journalism and self appointed representation thereof. To say nothing of your own pretensions to championing "real" journalism by defending Dvoraks conflicted attack on blogging, which is similarly compromised.

Which "authority" was it (I note your reliance on this concept, an idea as old as sin and just as pernicious, in self-contradiction of your own stated ideals, and to go with your self referential lies* and your self appointed status) that made *you* the definer of what is real journalism, and again the defender of this faith against the heretic barbarian blogging hordes?

It was your self, wasn't it?

*Yes, I followed the link but found only the original article. If the blog you promised exists it is concealed beyond the art of this mere mortal. There is certainly no Editors Blog link on the Home Page nor on the article itself, nor any obvious (or even subtle) clues as to where it might lie.

With all these "self's" one could almost believe that every act of journalism, whether amateur or professional, is innately a selfish act, an act of self-aggrandisement, now practiced with the assistance of the net, on a global scale.

The difference, it seems to me, is that bloggers explicitly recognise this, accept it, in some cases celebrate it, and often enough, hope that it doesn't get in the way of some either useful, or entertaining, or merely diverting, or sometimes all three, dialogue.

We understand that real professionals prefer unidirectional broadcasting to quiet civil conversation, oh yes indeedy do we do, just as we recognise the implicit threat in the recipients of this manifestly ill-mannered shouting having a working conduit - like, oh, say, blogging - with which to communicate to your employers exactly what we think of your efforts and precisely what value we'd place on them were they subjected to contest in the open market of for ideas, news, observation, commentary, etc; in short, the sum of what may be called journalism.

Hey! it's not working guys, we'd better all SHOUT LOUDER!!!

Good Luck with your career, Andrew.

In deepest and most sincere and utter contempt,

Denver Fletcher
New Zealand.

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