Monday, September 01, 2014

Why Idiot Bloggers With No Established Credibility Whatsover Really Do Matter.


I've had a wee bit of fun of late paying attention to what appear to be the unedited musings of the id of one of Lotusland's most established and most credible proMedia types.

Of course, people like me and the other local F-troop list bloggers 'round here, really do have no established credibility.

At least not with members of the local proMedia that, apparently, have it all.

And, personally, I like it that way.

As did the late, great Steve Gilliard who explained why, back in the prehistoric days of American Left Blogistan's early rising (i.e. 2005) in the wake of the death of the good Docktor Thompson:

...Bloggers are not some new creation, but the newest set of the barbarians at the gates. They are the people who don't trust the system and it's artifacts. It is to writing, what rap is to music, the coming of democracy to a trade. What (Hunter) Thompson and his peers did in the 60's and 70's, we do today. But free of the constraints of editors and publishers and the need to hustle up work.


Because of two different trends in writing.

One is the coopting of journalists. The insiders beat back the challenges from the Sheehans, Halberstams and Arnetts. Those who played the game won, those who didn't became heroes and authors, and exiled from the newsroom. Arnett hung on longer than most, but most were gone from the daily papers by 1975. Or they became enamored of celebrity, like Bob Woodward. Some like Sydney Schamberg and Ray Bonner, following in their tradition, were booted from newsrooms the minute their bosses felt uncomfortable. Or exiled to "alternative" papers. The newsroom became the home of the tame dissident and the complient office holder. Carl Hiaasen saves his most brutal critques of Florida life for his crime fiction. Bob Greene wrote drivel for years, finally canned, not for a lack of talent, but an excess of hunting teenaged trim. The best writing in the Washington Post is Tom Boswell's sports columns.

If people are disheartened by this, they shouldn't be. Ernie Pyle died 60 years ago this week, because he loved soldiers and the stories of their lives. Edward R. Murrow was forced out of CBS. Thompson was lucky in that since he was never inside the tent, they could never kick him out. But most of the great heroes of journalism were and will be forced from the newsroom, because that is not a place for uncomfortable truths. There has never been a national columnist like Jack Newfield or Mike Royko or Jimmy Breslin, and never will be. Because they will never play the game, or even recognize it.

The other is the irrevelant nature of modern fiction writing. The worst thing to ever happen to writing was the writing program. Because it allowed people to focus on the trivia in their lives. The greatness of Heller and Mailer escapes these mindless twits nattering about their cheating dads and pill popping moms. It's not even a world of clever craftsmen like Thomas Pynchon, but of navel gazers like Dave Eggers. Eggers, a silly, irrelevant man in a serious time, draws only my contempt and scorn. I mean, his idea of struggle was living off inherentences. Not that his personal story wasn't tragic, but it's not Sophie's Choice. The problem is that Eggers and his little group of confederates are trivial people in a not trivial time...


...The outlets to discuss American life are now closed off because one group is afraid and the other indifferent.

Which is why blogs are so popular. There is no other outlet to explain the contradictions in American life cleanly and clearly. The outcasts are more unwelcome now than ever in newsrooms battered by greedy owners and vindictive politics, fiction created to explain the anger at middle class suburbia. Honesty and truth have no place in either forum.

Which is why Hunter Thompson was a hero. He was honest to a fault and mean to a fault. In a world where journalism has become about asking questions politely and fiction about settling grudges with parents and schoolmates, he was about something far more important.

Blogs follow in the tradition of outlaw journalism, but without the flourishes he liked. It's not about just being outrageous, most of the bloggers are little different than their peers in newspapers, clean living young men and women. They don't get drunk and naked for fun, they pay their bills, stay faithful and maybe have a beer too many. However, it is the spirit of what Thompson meant, to be outside the laws of journalism, not the rules, but the laws. The laws of not offending advertisers and friendly pols. The laws of family friendly copy. Those laws. Not the rules about honesty and decency...


...It's odd to think of the outsider Thompson having won the day about what we call journalism, but blogging allows for a world of outlaw journalists, working cheap and fast ans supporting each other in ways he couldn't imagine. It's not a bad legacy.


I miss Mr. Gilliard.

The inspiration of his writing is a big part of why I started, and have not yet quit, this digital tilting-at-windmills thing.

Our thanks to a former Gilliard comment thread denizen, Driftglass, for dragging this bit of the Steve out of the digital memory bank the other day.
And, in case anyone cares, the reason I concluded that Dr. Thompson really was the first modern day blogger (even before the advent of the goddamn Mojo-wire) is...Here.



e.a.f. said...

Nice read, thank you.

Blogging reminds me of what the British called pamphletters, back in another century. Bloggers just don't have to stand on street corners handing out their pamphlets.

If it weren't for bloggers, a lot of news would simply not be reported. Thank god for bloggers, they make society a better place.

Anonymous said...

MSM to pro-media to corporate media?

Anonymous said...

Lew said...

"People have to tell the truth. Kurtz and his fellows are people to be derided and mocked, not argued with. To accord him respect and seriousness, in the job most journalists disdain like cops hate internal affairs, is to give him power that his peers would never."

Substitute Keef for Kurtz, and it fits nicely.

Anonymous said...


The fictions celebrity government stylists mouth, have long been exposed by bloggers... we have come to expect their predictable hiss when they are backed into a corner time and time again.

RossK you get all the gold stars in the box:

Freeway blogging, are we too polite for this?