I posted a short rant the other day about a certain Dr. McPhail who seems to be on a one-man campaign to diminish the standing of weblogs at the Democratic Convention in Boston. A fun update on this wise man’s efforts from Jay Rosen:
BOSTON, July 29: Around 4 pm on Monday of convention week, when I finally got myself equipped and online, I opened my e-mail and found this note sent to me by professor Thomas L. McPhail of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Jay: Do you tell your j students that they are wasting their time getting a j degree, rather they should just run out and become bloogers and pretend journalists with no commitment to ethics, laws, fairness etc. Tom McPhail ps how are the bloogers at the DNC? I am afraid that in the charge to get the scoop of the conference, that they may send out unedited or unchecked rumours as if it/they were fact. Thanks
That’s not the kind of note you edit or change in any way, and I haven’t touched it.
With gatekeepers like this, no wonder mainstream journalism is so intellectually challenging and erudite. Rosen later interviews Washington Post political reporter Thomas B. Edsall on the impact of weblogs on coverage. His own experienced take is considerably more nuanced:
We in journalism– there’s an orthodoxy to our thinking. You can come up with an idea and you know it’s sort of verbotten, or they’re gonna say, “oh, that’s only worth ten inches,” and they’re gonna put you inside the paper. It’s not worth the fight.
The blogs can sort of break the ice and make it clear that there is something pretty strange or pretty unique or pretty interesting or pretty awful about something that, given our way of looking at things– which tends to be very straight line: is it illegal, is it this, will somebody criticize it? That kind of stuff.
They have the potential and actually do open a lot of doors. There’s a lot of junk, but there’s an awful lot of good stuff too.