Monday, March 27, 2006

Washinton Post Blogger on Domenench

Joel Achenbach comments on the Domenench affair.

The piece rasises a much more fundamental question about the blogosphere than the question of whether one partisan hack should have been employed by the Washington Post. Is the blogosphere compatible with newspaper type journalism or is it simply a new venue for partisan talk radio?

Hiring Domenench was a disaster in the making for the Post. If he had continued he would have quickly reverted to form. Whatever separation they may imagine exists between the online and print edition there is no distinction in the minds of the online readers. For them Froomkin is the Post, no ifs or buts. If Froomkin were to leave most of his readers would move with him.

The Post brand is associated with journalism. Talk radio is entertainment. Mixing the two is a bad idea whichever side of the fence the partisan hackery comes. The rapid fire response encouraged by the blogosphere does not mix well with journalism. I suspect that a major reason for the frequent inannities voiced on talk radio is the sheer pressure of filling up a 3 hour show every day. 3 hours of broadcasting does not exactly leave much time for research.

Fortunately there is a big difference between the blogosphere and talk radio. Talk radio is not a genuinely interactive medium. The host always has the power of the microphone. The blogosphere is much more democratic. Even if a particular blog does not allow comments (standard for partisan punditry blogs) there are plenty that do. Every statement that is made is going to be examined.

It is OK to make mistakes in the blogosphere, but leaving the record uncorrected is a different matter, as is attempting to erase the record. Campaigning on the fictitious charges or sloppy research that have made Ann Coulter and Michael Moore rich does not cut it in the blogosphere for very long. As the Post itself discovered, you can turn off comments on the Obmudsperson's blog but that does not stiffle criticism of them.

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