I’ll start in my now-customary hypocritical manner by sending you to a blog I like very much, written by Rebecca Blood. She observes a hostile exchange and calms the waters with a well-reasoned response that asks whether blogging is “in danger of being marginalized before it gains a foothold with mainstream Web users.”
The conversation starts with an e-mail from fire-breathing columnist Nick Coleman to PressThink blogger and respected academic Jay Rosen, last seen attempting to keep a straight face when interviewed about blogging by The Daily Show. Rosen posts Coleman’s e-mail and asks readers to interpret it and comment.
The gist of Coleman’s e-mail: “Hey, pointyhead ivory-tower guy. Thanks for ripping me when I stood up to right-wing blogging ****** (pick any word you like). Now that Powerline has been discredited and Republican stooges are still taking over journalism, where are you now? Huh, punk?”
(Re Powerline: He must be referring to the recent controversy over the Terri Schiavo memo, which is really too trivial to concern most people who aren’t bloggers. If you missed the whole thing and want to know what happened, there’s a good summary at Instapundit.)
Rosen has an unusual blogging style that purists may dislike, but I think it has some merit. He elevates good responses such as Rebecca Blood’s into the main text of his post.
As usual, his comments attract their share of self-important political warriors, but there are a handful of good ones. I hope mine is in the latter category, though it’s slightly meaner than my usual fare.
The upshot: Obnoxious as he was, Coleman has a point. People who spew red-vs.-blue invective at each other aren’t enlightening America, they aren’t providing a valuable service, and the general public will always have a good laugh in their direction.
Notice that I didn’t say they have no impact. They do. Why? The same reason the vast wasteland of cable news has impact — we journalists pay attention. And why do we pay attention? Because if P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker — a quote that is disputed — he surely had journalists in mind.