The PJ Tatler

Re: Pulitzer Winner

Earlier today, Bryan looked at the strange case of the “Pulitzer winner [who] was once a deserved target of blogger scorn”

His names is Joe Rago, of the Wall Street Journal, where is a senior editorial writer. Mr. Rago first emerged on the blog scene back in 2006 at the wizened age of 23, for writing that all blogs stink except the blogs that he, Joe Rago, was in the habit of reading. Those blogs, of which there were very few because he wasn’t much of a blog reader, didn’t stink. I would link Rago’s ridiculous column but it has since gone down the paywall memory hole.

But not the Wayback Machine:

Blogs are very important these days. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has one. The invention of the Web log, we are told, is as transformative as Gutenberg’s press, and has shoved journalism into a reformation, perhaps a revolution.

The ascendancy of Internet technology did bring with it innovations. Information is more conveniently disseminated, and there’s more of it, because anybody can chip in. There’s more “choice”–and in a sense, more democracy. Folks on the WWW, conservatives especially, boast about how the alternative media corrodes the “MSM,” for mainstream media, a term redolent with unfairness and elitism.

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren’t much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . .

Read the whole thing here. As I wrote at the time, in hopefully not too solipsistic a form:

What I don’t understand is the attack on the format itself. A Blog simply refers to a Web-based format that allows for instantaneous and automatic uploading of new post; its contents are as varied as can be imagined, from superbly logical 10,000 word essays from Steven Den Beste in the mid-naughts, to the video-oriented content of sites such as Hot Air. (All the way to the day-in-the-life fair that originally inspired the name “Weblog”, of course.)

Surprisingly, Rago is a man who sees bloggers as being virtually identical clones, despite working for a publication such as the Wall Street Journal, which published op-eds from early pioneer Glenn Reynolds during the 2004 election season. Ironically, though, Rago’s piece is little indistinguishable from the themes that tie together seven years worth of hit pieces on Internet-based journalists that I assembled last year.

In that sense, Rago’s piece was one of the last of a particularly haughty style of MSM attacks on the form, written even as the legacy media was adopting both blogging technology to publish their articles, and even giving blogs to some of their long form columnists blogs of their own to experiment with, albeit with disastrous results at times, of course.