Media Roadkill and Blogs

Jack Shafer of Slate thumbs his nose at those predicting the death of traditional media ("Blog Overkill," 1/26/05).

The premature triumphalism of some bloggers indicates that they haven’t
paid attention to how Webified journalists have become. They also
ignore media history. New media technologies almost never replace old
media technologies, they merely force old technologies to adapt and
find new ways to connect with their audiences. Radio killed the
"special edition," but newspapers survived. When television dethroned
radio as the hearthside infobox and cratered the Hollywood box office,
radio became a mobile medium, and Hollywood devoted itself to
spectaculars that the tiny TV set couldn’t adequately display. The
competitive spiral has continued, with cable TV, VCRs and DVDs,
satellite TV and radio broadcasters, and now Internet broadcasters
entering the fray. The only extinct mass medium that I can think of is
the movie house newsreel.

He also takes a dig at the smugness of some bloggers. I come out closer to his view (for instance, here, here, here, and here)  yet, as Woody Allen might have said,  I at least partially "resemble" the following criticism.

The bloggers certainly weren’t going to get much lip from me. I saddled up with the new media posse back in 1996, and much of what I do—write, post, link, read, communicate with readers, devote myself to an arcane subject—resembles what most bloggers do, except that I get paid for it, and I tend to write twice or three times a week at 1,000 words rather than several times daily at a paragraph or three. The biggest difference between me and conventional bloggers is that I usually pause between first thought and posting. Inspired by the slow food movement, I like to think of myself as a slow blogger. Sometimes I’m so slow—as this Wednesday dispatch from a Friday-Saturday conference proves—that I resemble a conventional journalist.

Mea culpa, yet still a well-earned chuckle from this corner.  The column seems to have been sparked by Harvard’s "Blogging, Journalism & Credibility" conference.


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