Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Peevish in the Morning Edition
Menzie Chinn Causes Me to Raise My Estimate of the Multiplier

Department of "Huh?!"

Alex Massie:

The Blogging Rules?: As an exercise in provoking bloggers Jonathan Rauch's suggestion that the internet is, like, totally hopeless is splendid. So there's that. But as a plausible critique? Not so much.... A man as refined and sensible and intelligent as JR can't possibly mean this, can he? If nothing else the internet makes it easier for me to read Jonathan Rauch and we may all, I hope, agree this is a Good Thing. Most of the time, anyway. But let us take this seriously even if it's not quite designed to be so treated....

[T]he internet has made it possible for the casual reader to follow events overseas to a depth and level of detail previously only generally available to specialists. There are many other examples one might cite of this phenomenon but in each case the internet - and the writing done on it - enables huge dollops of thinking and reading.

Rauch's criticisms could equally be lobbed at newspapers. And to an extent they'd be reasonable. Much of what's in the paper each day is pap and a good deal of it is simply wrong too. But that hardly means we'd be better off without newspapers.... The online world is a noisy, busy, disputatious, crowded place. That means it must often be exasperating but is also what generates excitement and, yup, plenty of excellence too.

For that matter, the internet is now so vast that sweeping generalisations... are now meaningless.... [M]essage boards and blogs are also places where like-minded people come together to discuss their obsessions. This may not always be an edifying or especially elevated conversation but if that's your problem then your argument is with people, not the internet.... Could it all be better? Sure. But is it hopeless for reading and thinking? Hardly. Indeed it provokes these things even though that's only one measure of its interest or usefulness.  There's a lot of good stuff out there!

Jonathan Rauch:

Blogging, Cont'd: Reply to That Ninny Alex Massie : I'm disappointed in the ninny Alex Massie's imbecilic response to my rant about the blogosphere. Not one personal insult! Not one noun like "ninny" or one adjective like "imbecilic"! (Not even a "fucking.")... This is the blogosphere. I'm not getting paid to be here. I'm here to get incredibly famous (in my case, even more incredibly famous) so that I can get paid somewhere else. The way I get famous is by hurling insults at other people I disagree with, or by sneering and taking cheap shots and overreacting and whatnot, and—here's the really important part, Alex—BY BEING INSULTED BACK. That way I can be "provocative" and a subject of "controversy," which will bring me "eyeballs," and therefore "hits" and "clicks," which somehow will get me paid. (Tina Brown: Are you listening?) Instead, what do I get called? "Refined and sensible and intelligent." That and $2 will get me on the subway. Get with the program, Alex. It's the internet era, baby. Lay it on. (Need help? Go here.)...

[W]hen you find a medium in which 99 percent, or whatever, of what's produced is bad, there is a problem with the medium. It's as if someone replaced the ball-point pen with the spray-paint can and said, "Here, write a book!" What you'll get is a very short book scribbled on the side of a building.... Lack of a payment model militates against professionalism and rewards noisiness; links and onscreen clutter militate against holding a reader's attention; instantaneousness militates against impulse control; the desktop and laptop screen are physically uncomfortable for reading. Result: induced ADD.... In terms of the environment and the incentives it creates, the blogosphere, I submit, is the single worst medium for sustained, and therefore grown-up, reading and writing and argumentation ever invented.

By the way, I didn't do a second draft of this post. I'm doubt any of what I just said will pass the test of time. But did I make you want to call me names? Please?

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?