NICK DOUGLAS — After Valleywag canned me as editor in November, I talked to a half-dozen editors and writers from as many respected newspapers and magazines. Several discussed writing positions that I would have killed for the year before. Why did I turn them all down and go back to blogging? Well, first because the SF Chronicle won't let me come to the office in a necktie and boxers. But also because print journalism about the Internet is as pathetic as a two-legged leprous puppy, and half as healthy.
The articles are shit.
"Bad behavior in the blogosphere!" "How this kid made $60 million in 18 months!" "Web Celeb 25!" Wow, those headlines (from the Chron, BusinessWeek, and Forbes respectively) make more sense with the added exclamation marks. Switch the nouns and they'd all fit in the Enquirer.
The tones within are just as noxious. Forbes writes about the "web celebs": "From bloggers to podcasters to YouTube stars, these are the people who are creating the digital world from the bottom up." Of course, they're just cribbing from TIME: "For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you." Gag me with a bottle of Diet Coke and Mentos.
Someone's fuzzy on the concepts.
Covering the death threats against blogger Kathy Sierra, the BBC reported, "The police are investigating while the blogosphere has launched its own enquiry." I'm imagining the writers of Boing Boing, Gawker and Perez Hilton putting down their PowerBooks and shouting "No time to blog, men! We're here to form a posse!"
Treating the "blogosphere" as an entity is like saying "the drama world is excited about its production of Cats." "TV went to Darfur for a special report." "Today France baked a baguette." Screwing up concepts is a journalistic specialty; reporters still struggle to understand hacking, censorship, piracy, net neutrality (okay, no one understands net neutrality), anonymity, and the very idea of one person putting content on another person's site (like, you know, a comment). Almost — but not quite — grasping an Internet concept is a journalistic tradition as old as Internet itself.
Old and busted, meet the new hotness.
Know what's bad about paper? Paper's slow. Paper can't tell you that OMG Steve Jobs is pulling out the long-awaited iPhone on stage right this second. Hell, even TV couldn't bring a bulky setup into Jobs's Macworld keynote to tell you that. Yes, I'm one of those jackasses who believes blogging is The Future Of Journalism. Not because we write any better (we're even worse) or because we're any more honest (we're liars). But there are enough of us to refute each other, point out the good bits, and throw the winners onto Digg.
We're not any closer to the truth. We're just closer to the facts.