Ho hum, former Washington Post editor (and current WaPo exec) Leonard Downie gave a big speech in London last night condemning online aggregators as "parasites" and criticizing the blogosphere. Can I fly to London and re-enact 2005, too? Pretty please?
At a certain point, once arguments have gone around in circles for a number of years, it's best to just agree that all the contrasting points have been made, and move on. Because re-making these points again and again does nothing more than reveal the speaker as (at best) a cliche-spouting bore, or (at worst) a crank. Does anyone want to read transcripts of talk radio arguments between Red Sox and Yankees fans over whose team is the fawkin best? No, and likewise, nobody wants to read a transcript of a speech from the editor of a famous newspaper spouting platitudes about the evil of (some) blogs. Not even me, although I have to, for work.
The aggregators fill their websites with news, opinion, features, photographs and video that they continuously collect – some would say steal– from other national and local news sites, along with mostly unpaid postings by bloggers who settle for exposure in lieu of money.
Though they purport to be a new form of journalism, these aggregators are primarily parasites living off journalism produced by others. They attract audiences by aggregating journalism about special interests and opinions reflecting a predictable point of view on the left or the right of the political spectrum, along with titillating gossip and sex. Revealing photos of and stories about entertainment celebrities account for much of the highly touted web traffic to the HuffingtonPost site, for example.
Yes, horrible parasitic aggregators like Romenesko, where I found the link to your ponderous speech, Downie. Are you really going to put us in the position of standing up for HuffPo? Of course there's lots of vapid shit on HuffPo, much of it taken from other sites, in summary/ slapdash rewrite form. This is not new! Have you ever been through a supermarket checkout line? People have been reading trash and rehashed gossip since the first blabbermouth learned cuneiform. Yes, yes, you acknowledged there's lots of good stuff online, but please—the aggrieved newspaperman act is just old. As is the brash-blogger-baiting-the-aggrieved-newspaperman act!
Hey Downie: your editorial page sucks and your newspaper can be preposterously whiny. Despite that, allow me to be the first person this morning to congratulate the Washington Post on its consistently fine journalism, that its many unheralded correspondents turn out daily on a plethora of topics. We love you guys, more or less! We're all a mixed bag, see. You're old and boring and awesome, and we're greedy bloodsuckers, blah blah. Let's just agree not to make any more speeches on it. Help me out, man. I have no way to make this interesting any more.
It's not even 10 a.m. yet.
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