aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Opinion v news
Kos on the Times v Wall Street Journal influencing public opinion:
The Wall Street Journal is not stupid. They’re smart. They’ve put their news content behind a pay wall and have done quite well revenue-wise for their troubles. BUT, they also want to influence public opinion. And being a key component of the Right Wing Noise Machine, the WSJ editorial board has made sure their opinion material is accessible to everyone. Heck, they have a guy emailing their content to bloggers. They even have a separate site for it: OpinionJournal.com. You want your dose of Peggy Noonan (must ... supress ... gag reflex), or John Fund, or James Taranto? You’ve got them. No pesky paywall between their opinion content and the people they hope to influence.
The New York Times, on the other hand, is the textbook definition of stupid. They take the one part of the paper that is a commodity—the opinion—and try to charge for that. No Krugman? Who cares. Give me Brad DeLong. No Bob Herbert? Whatever. Give me James Wolcott or anyone at the American Prospect or Washington Monthly. Or any of the thousands of columnists at other newspapers, and the tens of thousands of political bloggers.
Is it really stupid to try to charge for your commodity? What else do you charge for?
As a citizen rather than as a partisan, I think hard news is more important than opinion. I want opinion based on hard news. Keeping the news pages open is more important. I applaud the Times for that.
As a left-leaning partisan, I note how the left abandons the columnists they profess to admire over a measly $4.16 a month. It seems a reasonable price point to me to help keep a valuable media asset afloat.
TimesSelect may well fail and I’d prefer an advertiser model (though I note that bloggers object to that too) but I sure don’t blame them for trying. I quote again from Business Week’s important story on the challenges facing the Times:
THE CONSTANCY OF THEIR COMMITMENT to high-cost journalism has put the Sulzbergers in an increasingly contrarian position. Many of the country’s surviving big-city dailies once were owned by similarly high-minded dynastic families that long ago surrendered control to big public corporations that prize earnings per share above all else. Editorial budgets at most newspapers, as well as TV and radio stations, have been squeezed so hard for so long that asphyxiation is a mounting risk. The proliferation of Web sites and cable-TV stations has produced an abundance of commentary and analysis, but the kind of thorough, original reporting in which the Times specializes is, if anything, increasingly scarce.
In effect, the Sulzbergers have subsidized the Times in valuing good journalism and the prestige it confers over profits and the wealth it creates.
We say we want that in our media institutions, but we flat-out want it for free. Sounds like the left has an issue with money to me.
I’m as big a fan of citizen produced media as the next guy, but I’ve got just as much praise for the MSM. It’s a wonderfully synergistic ecosphere we’ve got these days, and I’m on the side of those who’d like to see what newspapers like the Times do continued.
99Ã‚Â¢ store a thing of the past?
Apple’s fighting with the labels:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The love affair between record labels and Apple Computer Inc.
could be headed for the rocks as they bicker over prices ahead of licensing renegotiations set for early next year.
The licensing agreements between Apple, maker of the wildly popular iPod digital music player and operator of the most widely used music download service, and the record labels are set to expire next spring.
Both sides, which have benefited enormously from music sales created by the iPod phenomenon, are jockeying for position.
Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs, believed by some to be the savior of the music industry, insists that prices should be uniform at 99 cents a song and $9.99 an album, saying that the buying experience for consumers should be simple.
Record executives, however, are seeking some flexibility in prices, including the ability to charge more for some songs and less for others, the way they do in the traditional retail world.
Much as I dislike the content cartel, for the moment I’m agnostic on the issue. “Some flexibility” seems reasonable.
Then again, my “some” and their “sum” are likely to be very different.
Chris Bowers has argued that:
The left-wing blogosphere is beginning to decidedly pull away from the right wing blogosphere in terms of traffic. This is largely a result of the open embrace of community blogging on the left and the stagnant, anti-meritorious nature of the right-wing blogosphere that pushes new, emerging voices to the margins.
I don’t think so. I think the rise of left-leaning blogs that we’re seeing now is akin to the rise of right-leaning media in the era of liberal dominance. It’s a reaction.
But for all the talk of an “open embrace of community blogging on the left,” look who’s practicing tough love now:
So yeah, I’m not going to blogroll you, but that wouldn’t really help you anyway. It is easy to look at things on the surface and think that blogrolls are an important factor in building up a blog. However, if you spend a year and a half studying blog traffic like I have, and helping build two blogs up from nearly scratch to major status, the real causes for blog success become a lot clearer to you. Take the hard steps that actually work.
And if you ask me to blogroll you, from now on I’m just going to send you this post as an attachment.
Well golly, I haven’t spent a year and a half studying blog traffic like he has, and my “hard work” is a leisure activity, a labor of love, so what do I know anyway?
But then I have heard somewhere that one of the great things about the web, and by extension the blogosphere, is how it democratizes, makes media production accessible to all and thereby pulls in intelligence from the edges.
Apparently Chris’s edge is bounded by Scoop. Mine’s not.
I watch my traffic and I agree with Chris that my site in your blogroll isn’t going to drive any traffic to me. But I do believe that it does something else that’s legitimate and good.
It’s a marker of acceptance by someone somewhere that welcomes me to the blogosphere. It’s a sign of affinity and kinship and reaching out. It’s an indicator of respect and acknowledgement. It’s a digital nod that I appreciate.
And yes, sometimes it’s nothing. But it’s part of the ritual and practice of blogging that I’ve come to understand. I like it. And I think it’s worthy of respect.
Chris is a blogging celebrity and bloggers clamoring for his favor comes with the territory. It’s how he handles it that matters.
I’m reminded again of this passage from J. M. Balkin’s Populism and Progressivism as Constitutional Categories found via Digby:
What is...difficult for many academics to recognize is that progressivism has its own distinctive dangers and defects. Unfortunately, these tend to be less visible from within a progressivist sensibility. They include elitism, paternalism, authoritarianism, naivete, excessive and misplaced respect for the “best and brightest,” isolation from the concerns of ordinary people, an inflated sense of superiority over ordinary people, disdain for popular values, fear of popular rule, confusion of factual and moral expertise, and meritocratic hubris.
It’s not Chris’s message I don’t like, it’s the method of its delivery. And that’s something I’d like to see some of my fellow liberal bloggers learn.