Jack Shafer’s piece in Slate misrepresents what went on at the WebCred conference. The piece says the bloggers in attendance “declared blogs the destroyers of mainstream media.” (Notice Jack’s use of the term “declared” instead of “said” or, say, “ruminated,” btw.) That’s a long way from what I thought happened. I thought we had a useful, interesting, and many-sided discussion about how blogs are already changing journalism and how they might in the future. Yes, the bloggers thought the change is going to be more radical, inevitable and unpredictable than the mainstream media folks did. (Note: I’m generalizing.) And, sure, there were moments of conflict. But Jack presents his insight — “the alleged divide between the old media and this new whippersnapper media of blogs has never seemed real to me” — as a corrective to the conference when in fact it was the subject of the very first (and very excellent) presentation at the conference by Jay Rosen, which then served as the premise of the discussion.
Shafer’s piece, which contains good thoughts, irks me because he is letting himself play the hard-headed realist at the cost of making others look foolish. Ed Cone in his column today, IMO not only presents the conference more accurately, but also learns from the conversation.
1. Jay Rosen, who was among those singled out by Shafer’s article, responds personally here.
2. There’s such a thing as premature realism.
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