One of the many irritatations of the US ‘blogosphere’ (as opposed to our own little UK/European bloghamlet) is the tendency to blog about blogging. I like reading US blogs that have something fresh to say about the news or politics but I press the back button as soon as I see an article about how blogs are changing the way we think about news, ‘revolutionising journalism’ etc etc.
However I am going to break my ban on addressing the issue for once.
Why does this hype annoy me/amuse me so much? Well firstly I can’t escape the impression that the excitable kid is getting a bit carried away. Blogs are fun to create and run, blogs can be interesting to read and above all they can be a useful tool to discussion and finding articles you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered. Full stop.
They aren’t journalism – indeed to be quite frank we bloggers parasitically feed off traditional journalism don’t we? Most of us have day-jobs and rarely have time to sit down and write a 1,000 word analysis. Instead we link to someone elses and add our own comments.
That makes blogs a useful democratic add-on to traditional media but the idea put around by the likes of the ultra-hyped and over-rated Instapundit and the pompous Andrew Sullivan that blogging presents a revolutionary challenge to what they calls ‘big media’ is just tosh.
Instapundit clearly loves his ego being messaged by his many media appearances which he always posts about and that tells you everything you need to know – big or old media matters, it has the kind of credibility and import that a link on another blog just can’t match. Maybe the fools who give him money to blog haven’t realised but Sullivan writes his best articles for real media who pay him properly. The scraps and leftovers go on the blog.
I’d carry on but to prove my point about how we need real media Brendan O’Neill, a teacher of online journalism and assistant editor of Spiked, has already said it all in this excellent article.“I actually like blogs. Really I do. Some are funny, some alert me to interesting articles, some even say original things. But the biggest revolution since the birth of the printing press? Blog off,” says O’Neill. He has his own blog here by the way which is worth a look.
I found O’Neill’s piece via a link on Cinderella Blogafeller slagging this rather confused Spiked article by Bill Thompson which complains about the alleged power of libertarian US bloggers, what he calls (and I hope he is trying to be funny) the blogeoisie . I find lefties moaning about how popular right-wing US blogs nearly as dull as right-wing US blogs moaning about the liberal media. If you don’t like it – challenge it. To be fair Thompson does have his own site and blog.
Thankfully there isn’t much of this self-obsessed hype that O’Neill ciriticises from us Britblogs – we just tend to quietly go about our business with little or no attention paid to us by either the US uberbloggers or the UK real media.
OK, Reactionary Pete Briffa had a column in the Times the other week but that ‘historic moment’ wasn’t followed by a series of posts about how Briffa is breaking down the traditional barriers to non-PC views in the mainstream media was it? Why? Probably because Peter knows we would rip the piss out of him if he even hinted at such nonsense – call it a ‘check and balance’.
Yes there is a difference in size and influence between the UK and US blog scenes but I suspect there is also a cultural difference too. Americans feel much more comfortable selling themselves, they thrive on hype. On this side of the Atlantic we might overindulge in cynicism but we do have highly-tuned bullshit detectors.