Friday, January 28, 2005

Jack Shafer's Jihad Against the Poor Little Bloggers

By now, most of you have heard about or read Jack Shafer's views on blogs and blogging in Slate. Shafer claimed that the piece was precipitated by the "Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility" conference at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government last Friday.

The truth is, Shafer has had it in for blogs and bloggers for years. He had this to say in March, 2004:
If you've yet to visit these blogs [Gawker and Wonkette], imagine them as the twin offspring of a date-rape incident between Drudge Report and the original Spy magazine.
Here there is an indication that Shafer sees blogs as competition for his personal rice bowl, much as a prostitute might view common sluts as competition:
In Shafer’s opinion, the Web’s instantaneousness has leveled the playing field for critics like himself as well as the journalists he critiques.
And this quote indicates that Shafer reveres journalism and journalists perhaps a tad too much:
"You become a journalist the same way you become a surgeon—you probe, you extemporize, you cut, and you paste."
And if you had any doubt about Shafer's true feelings, his choice of words here reinforces the idea that Shafer looks down on non-journalists: "All Slate is doing is giving civilians a look at the process..."

Non-journalists are "civilians" - guess that makes bloggers "irregulars", at best. I think I prefer "irregulars" to"heaving pukes".

Update: Shafer emailed me a link to a lecture he gave last year, which presents a softer view of bloggers than that characterized by the quotes above, including this:
Today, a smart amateur can accomplish more searching Google in five minutes than an expert reporter from the 1970s could do in a day. Many times, the only thing a reporter from the New York Times has over one of these newcomers is the undeniable power that comes from saying, "I'm a reporter with the New York Times."
Whether or not you think it means Shafer likes bloggers, the lecture is an excellent summary of the growth of the Web and the integration of Web media into society.