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Forthcoming New York Times Story on Academic Webloggers

I have an email from Pamela Paul of the New York Times:

I am very eager to get in touch to talk to you about my story about academic bloggers. Basically, I am profiling 7 of the most prominent and influential blogs written by professors and yours is one. I have interviewed every other professor for the story (Becker/Posner, Glenn Reynolds, Juan Cole, Greg Mankiew, Eugene Volokh, Ann Althouse) and I really want to speak with you as well. I will profile your blog no matter what, but it is so much more interesting to readers and informative if I can include your quotes in the piece. If you get a chance, please do let me know when we could talk and I promise I won't take more than 5 minutes of your time.

I'm thinking of offering her one single quote to be used on an all-or-nothing basis: use it all or use nothing. Perhaps:

The best of us webloggers try to shift America's public sphere from celebrity gossiip toward policy substance. Back in 2004 Greg Mankiw was caught in an absurd media firestorm as "reporters... [who] universally acknowledged in private that [Mankiw's remarks were] correct and unremarkable" [felt] "as journalists... obligated to cover the political reaction" without foregrounding the policy substance. Why? Because foregrounding the substance would have made both Dennis Hastert and John Kerry look like idiots--which few reporters and no editors dared do. It would be a better world if we could stomp that kind of thing out, and we are trying.

What do people think?


UPDATE: So I did offer Pamela Paul the quote. Here is my email back to her:

The consensus around here is that at least four weblogs by academics that are more influential than any of these seven are missing: Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal has to rank number one as the most influential weblog by an academic, Crooked Timber (Chris Bertram, Kieran Healy, John Holbo, John Quiggin, and company) has to rank number two as the most influential academic weblog, Alex Tabarrok's and Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution in our view ranks number three, and Andrew Gelman and company's The Monkey Cage ranks number four.

And the consensus around here is that two of your seven probably do not belong on the list at all: Glenn Reynolds in the first half of the 2000s would have been a fine choice but right now he is much closer to being an RSS feed than a weblog; and Becker/Posner are much more trading off of their established reputations than engaging in a new form of communication.

If you want a quote, I will offer you the following on an all-or-nothing basis:

The best of us webloggers try to shift America's public sphere from celebrity gossiip toward policy substance. Back in 2004 Greg Mankiw was caught in an absurd media firestorm as "reporters... [who] universally acknowledged in private that [Mankiw's remarks were] correct and unremarkable" [felt] "as journalists... obligated to cover the political reaction" without foregrounding the policy substance. Why? Because foregrounding the substance would have made both Dennis Hastert and John Kerry look like idiots--which few reporters and no editors dared do. It would be a better world if we could stomp that kind of thing out, and we are trying.


FYI, I remember Pamela Paul writing:

Raise the Price of Toys: [M]any of us lament the fact that elementary, high school and even college students today seem creatively bankrupt, bereft of problem-solving skills, and completely lacking resourcefulness. Is it any surprise when we cater to them from infancy with a barrage of cheap toys. That they treat their playthings carelessly, fail to value material goods, and become indifferent to waste? And that they then complain of boredom as they get older? Kids would be a lot better off getting five new toys a year and playing with them 50 different ways. The best toys, after all, are the ones that look most "boring" from the outside. A good rule of thumb is that toys should be 10% toy, 90% child. It's what a child puts into a toy that counts. Take plain wooden blocks. At two months, a baby chews on the block and learns what wood tastes and feels like. At six months, he learns to throw the block and at ten months, he bangs them together. By age four, he is building castles and bridges. Toys are so cheap that it's hard to rationalize not buying them. But perhaps we need to raise the price of toys so that parents and children learn to value them again...

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