Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Remora Fish Hate You

What's the sound of a white, (prematurely) aging, white again, male suit whining? An editorial in the Wall Street Journal! Those MSM dudes would be kinda funny, with their chronic ink-stained hand wringing, if they weren't so deadly humorless. I smell a nespot, or something equally elitist and pampered and clueless.

Joseph Rago, assistant editorial features editor at the WSJ, has this nasty little shoutout for us bloggers. Hey, at least this is a fairly transparent flame of pure hatred, well written of course, rather than that patronizing joke of a TIME magazine cover, conceived by yet another suit. Wonder who's job is on the line? (Surely not mine!) Says Mr. Rago:

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful.

Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling. Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . . The way we write affects both style and substance.

The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope -- though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now.

Full not-for-public-consumption babble here. And my opinion? Right now? What fish could even GET up an ass as tight as Mr. Rago's? Henry James would never have bothered, that boring little poofster. How about a nice, loquacious bitch-slap to the WSJ for Christmas? Oh dear... a full Python moment has suddenly overtaken me. Sing along:

I'm a Blogger-Journalist and I'm OK.
I work all night and I sleep all day.
I fan the flames, I blog some more,
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I may take a shower,
and opinionate some more!


Amber said...

That's not the first time Rago has ragged (har!) on bloggers. I wonder why he has such a vendetta.

Davis Freeberg said...

I think someone might be a little concerned that there is an army out there willing to do his job for freeeee!!!! Instead of flame baiting the Remora fish, he should be sucking up to them for sending the shark more guppies to devour. Personally, I like to think of it more as good reporting creating a splash and the blogosphere being the ripple. He is right though that there is a strange relationship between the press and the blogs that many are still trying to work out.

newmediajim said...

Holy shit! This guy uses " logorrheic", " eschewed", and " solipsistic" in
one graph!! You gotta be freakin kidding me!!

How about "supercilious"?

Bradley said...

Google the phrase: "President Wright's Road to Damascus" to get another example of this twerp's "style". I thought he bore the stigmata of a pretentious newly minted college grad, and I was right. This reads like an essay he recycled.

K T Cat said...

Nice post. I thought Rago's article had some really great points amidst his scorn for us and showing off his vocabulary.

Vastation?!? That's not even in the on-line M-W dictionary!

Anyway, I certainly agree with him about us bloggers riding on the backs of the MSM. Without the WSJ and the rest as source material, life as a blogger would be pretty tough.

Where I think he goes way wrong is in his assessment of the value of our writing. Each of us chose to do something other than journalism with our lives. Because of this, we are experts in things he is not. We can still write. When we write, we lend our expertise to the topic at hand, improving the general understanding of the issue, sometimes significantly.

There's a blog post somewhere in all of this. If I do one, I'll be sure to link back to you.

K T Cat said...

Spacey Gracey, I did a post on this and threw you a link.