Sunday, August 02, 2015

Firedoglake..."It Was Perfectly Obvious Where The Energy Was."


There once was a time when Left Blogistan, particularly as it pertained to political goings on in the United States, was the place to go to find out what was really going on.

And while it would later suffer under the weight of bridges pulled down by the weight of (often its own) purity trolling, in the early days Firedoglake was one of the best corners of that place to hangout for all that defined the true excitement of blogging, which included the digging, the posts, the conversation-based commenting and the live-blogging.

To my mind, the highpoint came in early 2007 with FDL's deep and detailed coverage of the trial of one Scooter Libby.

Coverage that was so good that even the proMedia herd noticed. The following is from a piece by the NYTimes Scott Shane published at the time:

...All day long during the trial, one Firedoglake blogger is on duty to beam to the Web from the courthouse media room a rough, real-time transcript of the testimony. With no audio or video feed permitted, the Firedoglake “live blog” has offered the fullest, fastest public report available. Many mainstream journalists use it to check on the trial...

The thing is, even before that FDL founder Jane Hamsher knew that, just like punk, the real salad days blogging couldn't last when she wrote the following in 2006, back when the site was still running on blogspot with assists from a handful of fantastic contributors and a couple of Double-A batteries:

I was chatting with a good friend of mine today who went to high school with Jack Abramoff and remembers him simply as a "weird fat kid" and we got sidetracked onto the subject of blogs and cultural energy in general. We both concurred that the blog world has the feel right now that the punk rock scene of the late 70's had, and for much the same reasons.

The music business in the 70's had grown bloated and moribund and disconnected from its audience. Record executives busied themselves buying Rolexes for REO Speedwagon and paying millions for Casablanca records and nobody cared. They were perfectly horrified at the spectacle of kids paying $3 to see the Clash play a benefit for Marxist youth at the Geary Temple in 1978, but even as a kid it was perfectly obvious where the energy was, where the zeitgeist was shifting. Punk rock became a beacon for creative people of all walks, and oh so many years later the shadow it casts looms far greater than the corporate culture merchants of the time were able to envision.

It's not that the movie business or the book business or the magazine business is dead, or that the blog world is any challenge to any of them, but creativity is a very fluid thing and when it becomes difficult to achieve any kind of satisfaction in a particular medium the quality talent will siphon off into an arena that allows it expression. I could stand at a magazine stand for 24 hours straight, reading every issue on the racks and not come across the clever, relevant, insightful things I know I can find in a half hour on the blogs.

As a side note -- it's also apparent who hasn't been the beneficiary of this energy, and that would be in the right wing blogs. You can say my estimation is clouded by contempt but you would be wrong. I am perfectly able to appreciate and even (reluctantly) defend the filmmaking skills of people I loathe. I can count exactly two times I have ever read anything on the right even slightly insightful. For reasons too innumerable to go into right now, a philosophy that promotes totalitarianism and a system of endless repetition of someone else's talking points simply won't drawing the same quality thinkers. Period.

We thought punk rock and the energetic counterculture it produced would last for ever, but it didn't. It was over quite quickly.

Enjoy the blogs while you can. These are the salad days.

Anyway, by the time the first election of Mr. Obama rolled around in 2008 FDL was a force, pulling in 3 million hits a month while it raised money for progressive causes and candidates as well as raising its hardline progressive media profile all over the place.

And now it's done.

It will be interesting to see how the collective of new kids on the block, who have Ms. Hamsher's blessing, make out with their big-time new-media spin-off, Shadowproof.

And as for the future of the dinosaurs with the single-shingle shops (i.e. bloggers like me)?...Well, it's still better than yelling at the TeeVee...



Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Peristence is not everything but it is just about everything. Look at Alberta. Don't look at BC!

RossK said...

May 2017...Slow train comin'.

Got it.