Tuesday, April 10, 2007

[blogfocus tuesday] the dead trees take on the sphere

Reactionary Snob said:

Blogging about blogging is about as interesting as Jack McConnell but occasionally I break my silence on these issues … I like people reading other blogs. By definition, newspapers do not like their readers reading other papers). As it happens, how does this differ from the fact that most newspaper readers buy one newspaper...

Never one to look a gift-blogfocus-topic in the mouth, I happily kick off with Notsaussure:

Renewed comment on Guido and his Newsnight débâcle, from James Higham, Devil’s Kitchen, the Reactionary Snob and others, in the context of Oliver Kamm’s using it as a peg on which to hang his complaints about political blogs.

I very much incline to James’ and Longrider’s view on the matter of Guido and the use Kamm makes of him, but I’ll take the opportunity to say that Guido’s problem is that he’s essentially a humbug, and necessarily so.

He strikes attitudes of a courageous libertarian publishing the stuff the despised ‘MSM’ is too frightened or too compromised by their closeness to politicians to publish, but his whole raison d’être, it seems to me, is as a conduit between politicians (or their research assistants) and the mainstream media whom he purports to despise.

Longrider, who is not allowing comments himself, said:

This is not the first time I have heard of journalists inferring that bloggers are competing for their turf and do so by feeding from the very thing we criticise. This is a generalisation. I do not seek to become a “citizen journalist”. I write because I want to.

I use this place to sound off about things that annoy me, to inform when I have something to say about those subjects dear to me and about which I am an occupational expert – something Kamm clearly is not.

Neo-Jacobin, on his other site, agreed it all started over Oliver's comment on the Guido matter:

There are a few serious lessons to be learnt when dealing with the likes of Michael White on TV - for a start, you had better make sure you know off-by-heart every imaginable question that might be thrown up. Secondly, have (at the very least) a half decent progressive answer for those questions - or else you might end up looking like Guido - a laughing stock.

DK, meanwhile, had this to say about the damage, for example, of leaving the blogosphere open to the Michael Whites and Oliver Kamms:

What annoyed me about the Newsnight interview was that it allowed Paxman and White essentially to write off all blogs as mere unsubstantiated gossip sites and to repeat the old mantra that they are full of inaccuracies. Generally speaking, opinion pieces on the blogosphere, at least, are far better-sourced than that of the MSM because—and Guido did make this point—our reputations are at stake.

Benedict White added, about the blogosphere:

It seems to me that Michael White is as a dead tree journalist afraid of bloggers. He seems to put them down solely as places for gossip and comment, without coming up with any thing new. It is certainly true that a lot of political bloggers do mostly comment on what is in the news, or in press releases and so on, but sometimes they break stories or move them right up the agenda.

For example the story about Cherie Blair signing a copy of the Hutton report to auction and raise money for the Labour party was out there but got very little coverage until Guido and Iain Dale kept on plugging it.

Guido Fawkes asked:

Who is Oliver Kamm?

Iain Dale was more angry than I've seen him before:

I was going to fisk Oliver Kamm's ridiculous ARTICLE in The Guardian today where he lays into bloggers, but, you know, life's too short. Kamm is where he is because he used to write an interesting blog. He doesn't anymore.

… and Tim Worstall had this to say:

So if political blogs are too restricted a group (encompassing, as they do, everyone from Lenin's Tomb to well, places like this for example) are they a more or less restricted group than those at Westminster and those overwhelmingly Oxbridge upper middle class types who are the editorial staff of the nation's newspapers, TV and radio stations?

Less restricted, obviously, and thus in this argument, therefore better.

Oliver Kamm had originally said:

It [Guido's] was a catastrophic performance, mainly because the blogger required continual correction on points of fact. He thereby illustrated blogging's central characteristic danger. It is a democratic medium, allowing anyone to participate in political debate without an intermediary, at little or no cost. But it is a direct and not deliberative form of democracy. You need no competence to join in.

The notion that a political party becomes credible by being responsive to its activists is an error that Labour disastrously adopted in the 1980s.

The one which had the blogosphere up in arms though was this:

Blogs are providers not of news but of comment. This would be a good thing if blogs extended the range of available opinion in the public sphere. But they do not; paradoxically, they narrow it. This happens because blogs typically do not add to the available stock of commentary: they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide.

Oliver is at least being consistent. As long ago [in my short blogging months] as last July, I quoted Oliver Kamm [exact link missing:

Most blogs have nothing to say even then. Without editorial control, they are unconstrained by sense, proportion or grammar. Almost by definition, they are the preserve of those with time on their hands.

Clive Davis [link missing, sorry] mentions this attitude in quoting Jean-Remy von Matt:

Jean-Remy von Matt, the CEO of a German advertising agency … called blogs "the toilet walls of the internet". "What on earth", he asked, "gives every computer-owner the right to express his opinion, unasked for?"

And C4', an unlikely source, sticks up for Oliver:

To be fair to the man, Oliver Kamm is the only leftie whose opinions I take seriously!

So, whom to believe in this matter? And are you still in the dark about what it was all about? And does it really matter?

If you're a glutton for punishment, Oliver Kamm also suggests:

Daniel Finkelstein, Stephen Pollard and Norman Geras all criticise my argument on the grounds that it's wrong.
Naturally, the Voluntary Code of conduct has raised its head again. Guido has the last word.


Longrider said...

Longrider, who is not allowing comments himself, said:

Shome mishtake shurely?

james higham said...

Longrider, old chap, it said: 'comments have been terminated' or some such. It wouldn't accept them, which is a pity as I wanted to comment on your article.

Longrider said...

Ah... Looks like Bad Behaviour is behaving badly. Sorry about that.

Longrider said...

...Or were you trying to post a comment on one of the older articles? Comments are automatically shut down after 30 days idleness to reduce comment spam.

james higham said...

Commenting on the Guido thing. I'll go back over and have a look.

CityUnslicker said...

Now this is a fine example of bloggin at its best!

Ruthie said...

I have what is probably a very stupid question:

What does "fisk" mean?

Matt said...

Yo, James! I've only read a few of these and I'm kinda lost. It just looks to me like that Oliver Kamm fellow really screwed up. Ruthie, the only way I've ever heard "fisk" used is as a last name, a classmate I once knew in grade school.