Dear Adam Cohen

I sent this to Adam Cohen of The New York Times:

Dear Adam Cohen:

How much have you really explored the worlds of blogs?

Not much, given your “Editorial Observer” column in today’s The New York Times.

Like so many others in the MSM, you have fallen into the trap of judging the blogs by examining “celebrity” blogs only.

In fact, the only blog you mention that is not celebrity driven is the Daily Kos. Arianna Huffington’s project, for example, is limited to “expert” diarists. Joshua Micah Marshall writes for The Washington Monthly and has had a high media profile for years, quite unconnected with blogging. Garrett Graff and Ana Marie Cox, both of whom have plenty of elite connections (familial and otherwise), were even tapped to appear together as panelists for the recent National Press Club (that MSM bastion) event “Who Is A Journalist?” And The Drudge Report never was a blog of the sort now associated with the term.

What you did is certainly understandable: with limited space, you need to use the well-known as something of a shorthand, allowing reader knowledge to elaborate your story. But it does draw you into one of those traps that make us in the blogosphere continue to call you (to quote your own column) “the LSM (that’s Lame Stream Media).”

If you had bothered to explore the “real” blogs (and not just the “celebrities”), you would have found that questions of ethics and fact-checking have been of great concern amongst the blogs for a long time, exploding into our consciousness after the “Jeff Gannon” affair, but sparking extensive discussion even before.

Questions of ethics were even part of the reason that ePluribus Media, a web-based group of “citizen journalists” was formed this past February. ePMedia insists that its members sign off on a statement of journalistic ethics.

Had you spent the time to really read the blogs, you would have also discovered that it is becoming more and more important for bloggers to provide links to any statement or person they refer to in their blogs. Within the larger blogging community, individual bloggers are only taken seriously when they are able to back up what they say. No longer is it sufficient to simply blow off steam. Links have become de rigueur.

Please, if you are going to write about the blogosphere in the future, take some time to really explore it. Don’t simply dip into one aspect of it (particularly one as unrepresentative as “celebrity” blogs) and then write as though you know the whole of it.

Otherwise, your future columns will be as lame and behind the curve as is your column today.

Peace,
Aaron Barlow

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