When the Wall Street Journal Lies for Links

The WSJ recently published an article that called blogs parasitic trash:

The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

But actions speak louder than words. That same WSJ reported on an unconfirmed TechCrunch rumor about the YouTube acquisition by Google.
They also mention the lack of overlap provided by self selection bias:

This cross-referential and interactive arrangement, in theory, should allow for some resolution to divisive issues, with the market sorting out the vagaries of individual analysis. Not in practice. The Internet is very good at connecting and isolating people who are in agreement, not so good at engaging those who aren't. The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both.

But the web also makes it easy to reference past facts and changes in bias or perspective over time, which is something they are afraid of.

Any attempt by authority to make things seem universally right or wrong / white or black amounts to a self-serving attempt to stay relevant. If they believe their lie enough hopefully they can convince others to do the same.

Professionals do things for money. Amateurs do things because they are genuinely interested. Who would you rather trust?

Published: December 31, 2006 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


steven finau
January 10, 2007 - 5:28pm

"Whom would you rather trust?" Not who. Listless punctuation aside, the 'net has it all over old-line journalism, which long ago ceased to be about journalism, at least in most MSM newsrooms. Children these days often emerge from universities largely unschooled, and still very much as children, at least with respect to critical thinking abilities and reportorial skills; many of these kids get themselves a desk and a computer screen at "The Times" (choose your favorite municipal prefix), and suddenly believe themselves to be walking in the shoes of Ed Murrow. Sorry, no. Larry King's slippers, maybe; Murrow's, not.

And, yes, it is the simple power to go back and retrieve past statements, and lay them side by side with today's utterances, that makes blog v. Times look so much like FSU versus Ohio State.
(Still get up everyday thinking this will be the day that a certain presidential candidate releases his military files, as promised a couple of years back.)

Still have to like the WSJ, though, for elegant elucidation of most current events.

January 1, 2007 - 6:03am

Aaron - thank you for posting this, I didn't think the WSJ would print that, but it makes sense, independent publishers are breaking into the mainstream and cutting into the profits of the MSM.

When threatened with the Social Media revolution they are given two choices, adapt or "die" regardless of how powerful their brand or name once was. The wording of that post reminds me very much of a ludite, someone afraid of technology and desperately clinging on the past.

That author presents the agruement that because everyone has a blog, they're value diminishes. In fact it's the opposite, blogs are a tool, a publishing medium, a voice that when combined with other voices becomes increasingly more powerful. Blogs are growing in importance every day and eventually may replace the majority of the MSM altogether.

January 1, 2007 - 6:14am


Here are some valuable supplemental links to your post:

You can no longer read the full article at the main WSJ site but it's available in full here.

Here is a link to the reader responses the WSJ published on the article insulting blogs. They are outstanding!!!

January 1, 2007 - 6:17am

Many power systems, authorities, and aggregators are both irrelevant and unnecessary. That is the core issue at hand.

As more and more people share their thoughts online the web will be a closer reflection to the real world, and the easier it will be to marginalize many bogus authorities.

The core flaws in humanity will be seen on the web, and in some cases may even be over-represented, but the arguement that something is bad because many people are doing it is absurd.

As more people do something the odds of any particular one being good go up, the odds of finding one of the better ones goes up as more me too blogs reference the best ones, and the means to organize the sea of information also improve as there is more linkage data.

January 1, 2007 - 6:18am

I have no desire to see print media fade away -- I've worked in the industry for many years. But print won't survive by hiding its head in the sand and claiming new media isn't valuable. Journalism has degraded its standards, and the mainstream media has mostly failed its traditional role as a counterpoint to the logomachy of power. Print journalists could learn a lot from the best of independent electronic meda, if they would only wake up and get hip to what's real.

January 1, 2007 - 6:25am

Wow. thanks for sharing the link to the story & thanks to solomon for sharing the additional information. I think the MSM is scared in the same way that the music and movie industry is scared and doing what they can to protect their old business models.

Business evolves and these old companies with deep pockets seem to hate change more than anyone.

January 1, 2007 - 2:40pm

authority does not always necessarily mean or is congruent to truth and power.

you may ba considered as one because you have been there since time immemorial but does it also mean you have every right to reflect as the absolute right.

in this case as like black hats do, i would rely greatly with riding to the development of technology to survive and in this case, it's gotta be BLOGS that wil dictate the tempo and things to come unless someone could unleash a more powerful tool in the web before it.

it has been proven and it has worked nothing else.

January 1, 2007 - 9:01pm

sounds to me like someone is afraid that the internet is starting to affect his job security.

January 1, 2007 - 10:32pm

"sounds to me like someone is afraid that the internet is starting to affect his job security."

lol... agreed.

Conrad King
January 2, 2007 - 12:23am

When any industry that enjoyed the power the old MSM did in shaping the beliefs and buying habits of a nation is watching that slip away they are going to fight back any way they can. After all what happens to their profits when they no longer weild that influnce?

January 2, 2007 - 6:35am

From wikipedia;

"Journalism is a discipline of collecting, analyzing, verifying, and presenting news regarding current events, trends, issues and people. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists."

Writing skills are not part of the definition.

In that article, Rago stated,

"In this aspect, journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope--though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now."

Too bad it is after Christmas, or I would have sent him a dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary defines journalist as:

1. One whose occupation is journalism.
2. One who keeps a journal.

I can understand his dislike of people who write and have poor writing skills, but that's nothing compared to people who write but do not know the meaning of the words they use.

January 2, 2007 - 7:31am

Jeez, nice post... I can't believe that made it past the editorial staff at WSJ--it's such blatant self-promotion... kind of ironic that they describe bloggers as "self-endeared" while writing about their own superiority.

January 2, 2007 - 6:56pm

It's funny to see traditional media lash out at blogging like that, especially when the guy uses really big words to make himself sound more intelligent. That's the same as when bad marketers use really pompous TLAs and unnecessarily complicated language to make their products/services sound more impressive than they really are. I hate that.

The thing is, I do see his point on the self-endeared thing. A few years ago it used to be my job to moderate online communities and as part of that I had to read thousands of people's personal blog posts every day. A week of reading about John and Sally's trip to the shopping centre with their children and their opinion about the local selection of ice cream flavours made me want to find those people and....uh let's say "take away their PC " because it makes me sound less violent. This may be an extreme case, but what people don't always realise when given the power of public self expression is the fact that it helps to have something to say before you open your mouth and release it into the world.
As part of their work and training, writers, journalists and editors are always asking themselves stuff like "why would people want to read this?". This is something anyone engaged in writing should *constantly* be asking him or herself when writing anything aimed at public consumption. A lot of bloggers don't.

The question that needs to be asked, though, is whether the misuse of the medium by some is enough to taint the whole medium and render it irrelevant. If we reckon it is, then surely print media is made irrelevant by the fact that many papers out there are controlled by big companies that are heavy on agenda and tend to distort reality to fit their own ends.

January 2, 2007 - 11:27pm

Hi Shimrit
But if many people are writing mostly for themselves or only a few friends is it a misuse of the medium if their use is not the same as traditional journalists?

January 4, 2007 - 10:16am

Some of history's best writers would be A list bloggers today.

Yet we must say something when those who say the most are saying nothing.

- Augustine, The Confessions

January 4, 2007 - 6:55pm

That is some hostility right there by the WSJ. It is ironic that they would print an article that is nothing more than bait for the same feeding frenzy they are talking about. Why alienate your readers WSJ?

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.