Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Difference Between Online Journalism and Blogging...


Update: Thanks everyone for the support. And that includes Stuart, Kim, Gloria, Mary, Grant, Ed and Anons I - XI...It is much appreciated

...Do The Comments Have It?

In my last post, I explained why I have decided to turn on the 'comment moderation' feature here which means that you will have to wait for your comments to appear.

This is not something I do lightly because I honestly believe that the best bloggers do not just post.

In addition, they also discuss those posts, at length if warranted, with folks on the comment threads.

This is a conclusion I came to after I started hanging out a now defunct outpost called 'The Whiskey Bar' that was run by a master comment thread masseur named 'Billmon'.

The discussions at the Bar, whose tagline "Free thinking in a Dirty Glass" were two parts Brecht and one part Lizard King, were so wide-ranging and informative that I often felt like I was entering a world-class salon where I was sure to learn something significant every single time I visited. And to a degree that salon lives on still, sans the original barkeep, at an uber Brechtian, patron-run site called 'Moon of Alabama'.



I have tried to run my tiny site with that same comment thread ethic.

And as I said in my last post, I think I've done a pretty good job over the years.

Which means that I have done my best to keep this place wide open for comments since I started way back in the dinosaur ages (i.e. pre-WordPress).

And I have always tried to respond to any reasonable comment with a reasoned response of my own designed to extend discussions as much as possible such that new information and/or insight can emerge.

And the amazing thing about that approach is that I have never, ever really had anyone come by to act as, as Billmon used to call it, a deliberate online provocateur.

Or, in the more modern parlance, a 'Troll'.

And I like to think that, in large measure, folks won't be deliberately obtuse if they know you are paying attention and are willing to engage them in honest conversation where demonstrable falsehoods are given no quarter regardless the ideological stripes of the discussants.


Why have I suddenly put on the 'comment mod' feature then?

Well, it turns out that I finally lost patience with a concern Troll who will pretend to be reasonable and then will suddenly turn obtuse every single time.

Which brings me to 'Online Journalism', which I view as being very different than pure opinion/discussion-driven blogging.

I raise this distinction here because I think the best local practioner of online journalism, Sean Holman, has been unfairly hit by the fall out of the point that I have raised regarding deliberate obsfuscation by commenters.


Because the same person I will no longer allow to talk codswallop here regularly shows up at Sean's place.

The thing is, the way I read it, Sean is presenting information and then letting people have their say about that information rather than engaging them in conversation and offering opinion, either on the original information or on the comments (i.e. he is not 'blogging' as I see it). Thus, I have no problem with the following comment he left on my last post:

"Without specific reference to this case, I'm curious as to what measures I should use to determine whose comments get posted and whose don't. My policy has always been as long as its not defamatory, it goes up.

Anything else and it seems that I risk being charged with judging what can be the subject of political discourse and what can't...."

This is an important point. Mr. Holman is a working journalist who, in that role, feels it is important not to give the appearance of bias.

It is a very different matter with myself, however. I am not a working journalist and, while I like to think of myself as reasonable, I do have a bias, which I wear on my sleeve.

So, thanks everybody else who stopped by to offer support regarding the specific Troll issue, but please don't take it out on Sean.




RossK said...

From Anon--

Well said and I undrstand and support your right to moderate trolls....(edited by site owner)

RossK said...

Thanks Anon--

It is a position I have reluctantly come to.

And while I don't disagree with the rest of your comment I think the time has come to get back at the real thing.

Thanks again.


Jonku said...

Whatever it takes, Ross.

I visit Pacific Gazette daily and appreciate the leads and analysis not to mention your language-twisting sense of humour.

Thanks and keep on bloggin'!

RossK said...

Thanks Jonku.

I sure miss those old days at the Whiskey Bar.

If you have a look at the old profile of Billmon in the Philly Inquirer by Daniel Rubin, it's pretty clear that the intensity of the endeavour burn't him to a crisp. I actually remember the comment thread that helped fan the flames....It was the one attached to a scathing post Billmon wrote after Dick Cheney flung the F-word at a (fellow?) lawmaker on the floor of the US Senate.....After some serious discussion we all went berserk punning and riffing off the 'F'....It was a bit like the apes with the bones in Assimov/Kubrick's 2001...The bartender joined in for awhile, and then suddenly lost patience with us.....Anyway - do you hang out at the Moon much these days?


Jonku said...

Actually I did spend a fair bit of time there after Bernhard recently revived the Moon of Alabama, mostly because of his excellent coverage of Fukushima -- due to our location a topic worth following.

Although I spent many late, late nights reading, digesting and commenting both at the Whiskey Bar and the Moon, and learned much about politics, power and especially economics, which is what drew me to Billmon in the first place, I now try to pay the same attention to things happening a little closer to home.

In fact during the heyday of the Whiskey Bar I lived in the Eastern U.S., or had just moved here to the blest coast.

I still have favourite posters at the Moon, it's amazing how close you feel to people whose words you've read for close to a decade.

Along the way my rhetoric has improved and I try to remember key facts and arguments for when "those discussions" come up -- i.e. unions are bad, corporations will save us all, trust your leaders and "I read it in the paper (heard on radio/saw on TV)."

So I guess a shout-out and heartfelt thanks to y'all who keep the flame of independent perspective alive. It is a service I treasure.

As for other blogs I read daily, they include Counterpunch, Kevin Drum, the Moon, this one, Ross (!), BC Mary and Jim Scott at Salt Spring News. And The Tyee. And that great guilty pleasure, the Dope City Free Press.

I also listen to the car radio sometimes in the afternoons, CBC 2 if it comes in, otherwise the rock stations.

Oh, and a steady diet of BBC 6 Music during the day.

RossK said...


I have been missing Kevin Drum! Will look him up again.

All those sites are fine, and I very much agree with DCPress, although it is more than just guilty because that guy can really write and work a comment thread.

You might want to check out Ian Reid's place. It's regional politics from a POV you'll dig, and more.


NVG said... there isn't a trace of Ian's writings, however, the waybackmachine has Ian covered*/