Sunday, June 17, 2007

A (psuedo-)defense of J.T.

As expected, J.T.'s column on the blogosphere - in particular, to SevenHillsDem's comment in a discussion over the Athens Banner-Herald's endorsement of Nate Pulliam - has generated quite a buzz here in blog world.

Erick and the gang at Peach Pundit find fault with it, while GriftDrift also is on the topic at hand.

While I respect and like both bloggers, I don't necessarily agree with their takes on the matter. Erick's position is somewhat difficult for me to fully grasp as he criticizes the mainstream media, and the Banner-Herald in particular, for not interacting with and understanding the blogosphere. However, when one of its editors does just that, his argument appears to shift slightly and his criticism becomes that they are still 'out of touch' because they bash an individual commenter and not the actual blog or its regular posters ... despite the fact they are actually doing what he wanted them to do.

GriftDrift focuses on the fact that Thompson took exception to the fact that many bloggers and commenters rely on usernames or handles to identify themselves, in lieu of using real names. I see both sides here and am a little more sympathetic to the former's position, but I think there's an important element of this discussion missing here.

I think part of the problem stems from a disconnect between the actual bloggers who compose the posts (like Erick or GriftDrift) and those who leave comments (like SevenHillsDem). Understandably, if you're putting the effort into running and maintaining a blog, you're exercising some measure of accountability and responsibility, even if you are just using a username or handle. You have an archived collection of your thoughts and musings. You sometimes post photographs of yourself and your friends. You compile weekly lists of songs you're listening to. You post pictures from your tailgate even after Georgia lost to Vanderbilt.

However - and this isn't always the case - those who leave comments can often do so with the protection of anonymity, and that can be something which frustrates both bloggers and members of the MSM (and several of the former won't permit anonymous comments).

If I find any fault with Thompson's comments, it would be his lack of acknowledging the difference. And it's because of this reason why I believe he didn't reference the actual post by Erick and instead focused on the commenter's criticism ... because it's those kind of comments which can often be so maddening. It's why I don't frequent blogs like, say, Daily Kos as often, because it's the litany of irrational voices that confound me the most rather than the actual individuals posting them.

Perhaps this is part of the reason Erick is baffled by Thompson's take on the whole matter ... because he is focusing on one particular comment rather than the original post which triggered the lengthy discussion and critique of the ABH endorsement. And I can respect and understand that.

I do think the actual criticism of the commenters at Peach Pundit, and SevenHillsDem, was kind of odd because I've always found the overwhelming majority of the members of that online community to be among the most charitable out there, even if I don't always agree with them. In fact, looking back at that comment, I'm still not entirely sure why it upset Thompson so much that he felt the need to respond to it in a print column, but he did.

And, agree with his points or not, at least he's reading the blogs and engaging its writers. If you think he's wrong about something or that he's misreading the blogosphere, then do what you're doing and point out why he's wrong.

The folks at Peach Pundit are doing that, as well as others in the blogosphere, and this isn't this what we want?

4 Comments:

Blogger griftdrift said...

Jmac, I couldn't agree more with your take that there is a difference in responsibility and accountability of those that run blogs vs. the commenters. Maybe we should write up some sort of clade system for the media types so they can start to relate better.

Or and agreeance about Kos. You should try AMERICABlog sometime. Total freaks! Dang it, now I suppose I'm being the hypocritical one painting with too broad a brush. Nah, they really are freaks.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Reminds me, I've been trying not to get into the whole MSM vs. the bloggers thing ('cause it's SO damned meta)...but.

Yes, it was kind of silly for JT to call out a commenter. Particularly if the MSM really does want to be of a higher order than the blogosphere. But hey, he's trying.

And unlike some of my blogger brethren, I really do think there's a difference between the MSM and the blogosphere, or ought to be. The difference is the journalistic standard -- ideally the MSM should be adhering to it and upholding it. Meanwhile bloggers are connected to it by varying degrees. And some don't adhere to it much at all.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

And unlike some of my blogger brethren, I really do think there's a difference between the MSM and the blogosphere, or ought to be.

Who doesn't think there's a difference between MSM and new media?

11:11 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

I would say some - primarily national blogs - are working to position themselves as competitive challengers to the MSM. This isn't as much of a issue with regard to local or state blogs.

I'm with you grift! We'll compose a cheat sheet or something.

11:57 AM  

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