Slouching towards irrelevance
Friday, September 13th, 2002
This omission may be because quoting an LA blogger would have meant publicizing the neonetwork of Kaus, Volokh, Johnson, Havrilesky, Roderick, Simberg, Moxie, Pierce, Salisbury, Layne, Welch and the LAEXAMINER — all of whom comprise a Cabel of LAT Critics.
But I don’t think the exclusion of LA Bloggers was (just) cynical self-protection. A more subtle rule also applied. The article only quoted people who write for a newspaper (Safire), teach graduate students (Halavais, Grabowicz, Pryor), publish a book (Weinberger), or attend J-School (Milios).
Here’s what the LAT was thinking: “The rest of you aren’t worth quoting. You aren’t authorities. We can’t rely on you because nobody ‘official’ says you are OK. You haven’t been vetted. And if we quoted people who aren’t authorities, we’d lose our status as an authority.”
Of course, it is self-evident that nobody is better qualified to talk about blogging than members of the LA blogging community. They are authorities by right of their own experience posting millions of words and creating 100s of thousands of links. And they are authorities because they have, by daily inspection and ongoing dialog, vetted each other.
So, by clinging to its outmoded definition of authority, the LATimes abdicates its own claim to authority. The LA Times, like a plastic surgeon with a giant wart on the end of his nose, convinces us, but not in the way intended. The real story: bloggers can create powerful networks of mutually validated authorities, networks that exceed the vision and authority of traditional media.
Blind to its own blindness, the LAT is slouching towards irrelevance. (To paraphrase Tony.)
PS: Don’t miss Matt’s closing paragraph, which recounts his previous bad experiences as a “subject” of the LAT. And don’t miss Tony’s point-by-point deconstruction of the article.