Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fun with analogies

The jealousy and resentment felt by the ink-stained wretches in newspaperland toward the parasites in the blogosphere (like me) is boiling over. ZDNet has an interesting piece about the rise of blogs and the ham-fisted attempts by the old guard to play in our sandbox.

Initially caught off guard by blogs, newspapers and old-guard news agencies are now racing to present their own. So far, the results have been mixed. While papers such as the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman are using blogs to give readers a news voice they never had before, other papers like the Washington Post are struggling with everything from charges of plagiarism in their blogs to being labeled with the word every editor dreads--boring.
Another hurdle for newspapers is making sure that their blogs don't bore readers, said Patrick Williams, managing editor of the Dallas Observer, a weekly publication. He says that too often newspaper blogs are filled with leftovers from stories too long to fit in the paper that day.

"They're filled with all the news not fit for print," Williams wrote. "They're a place where writers go when reporting is just too hard. Let us pray...that blogs can go back to what they should be: teenagers and college students talking about sex and music."

Despite his distaste for news blogs, Williams says he values news and he believes that news stories are what drive the need for blogs and not the other way around.

"If I were the king of journalism, I'd force newspapers to stop publishing for a month," Williams said. "Then let's see what would happen to blogs. Facts have to be the basis of opinion at some point. And if a blogger is collecting facts, then at what point does the publication cease being a blog and become an Internet news site?"

We have heard, and will continue to hear, a lot of this kind of argument. And it is true that a lot of the raw materials for the product bloggers produce are created by old-fashioned dead tree newspaper folks.

But if you think about news as food, don't Williams' complaints sound like a cow feeling unappreciated by the cheese shop?


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