Blogging … Blah, Blah, Blah

Radley Balko has an amusing piece at Fox News entitled, “Blogging … Blah, Blah, Blah.”

In truth, “blogs” are nothing more than a relatively new way of distributing information, just as radio, television, newsprint, and conventional Web sites once were. Blogs differ from other media in that they provide links for easy referencing, they’re more easily and quickly updated (and, consequently, many times less carefully edited), they allow for more interaction between reader and publisher, and there’s virtually no barrier to entry — meaning just about anyone can start his or her own blog. You don’t need to win the approval of an editor. You don’t need start-up money from a publisher. You don’t need a radio tower. Bloggers also can operate outside the “rules” and standards — in terms of attribution, verification of sources, objectivity and concerns for libel and lawsuits — that are supposed to govern traditional journalism.

Other than that, blogs aren’t all that different the traditional media.

Dude, that’s pretty different! Surely, it’s more different than Rush Limbaugh and company were from their predecessors or CNN from the network news. Both those then-new media were hailed as revolutionary.

The “blogosphere” isn’t so much an alternative to the conventional newsstand as it is a massive extension of it. There are well-edited, well-researched, well-written blogs and there are poorly edited, poorly written, gossip-driven blogs, just as your roadside newsstand carries publications ranging from The Economist to the Weekly World News.

There are scholarly, erudite blogs and there are blogs that rant and screech. Your newsstand likely carries opinion journals ranging from Dissent on the far left to Policy Review or National Review on the right. The blogosphere extends those extremes on either end, and leaves few gaps in between. Some of it is insightful and articulate. Some of it represents original, undiscovered talent. Much of it, unfortunately, is garbage.

All true. Radley argues that we shouldn’t “fetishize blogging,” a point worth making. There are millions of blog(ger)s out there, most of them largely unread, many of them largely unreadable. They’re united only by the means of distribution.

Update: Radley is apparently getting lots of abusive e-mails from all around the political spectrum.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    There are millions of blog(ger)s out there, most of them largely unread, many of them largely unreadable.

    Thanks for the mention. 😉

  2. bryan says:

    Wait, he writes a story saying blogs are “no big whoop” and seems surprised that he’s getting abusive e-mails?

    I think he’s doing a good job of driving up readership for his column, if nothing else.