April 2022

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

« What the Founders understood, and didn't | Main | More than a personal virtue »

Aug 20, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I'm not sure I understand Dr. Skube's point. Seriously, someone help me out here. Is his point that bloggers are not jounrnalists? Is it that the medium defines the seriousness of the content? Is it that journalism has lost its fidelity to the facts and that is the fault of bloggers? Is it that the preponderance of writing on blogs is opinion and that the world still needs journalists?

I need the Cliff Notes, man -- or a comment from Dr. Skube.

Joe Killian

I've seen this sort of hostility that leads to not terribly lucid reasoning in a number of newsrooms, usually from older journalists, but also from younger ones. They don't like blogs because this blogger or that is a complete idiot and (especially if people like that blogger or take what they say seriously, whether or not it's grounded in fact) they resent being compared to bloggers.

I've felt that way myself at times -- but you sort of have to pull back from your anger at bad bloggers and realize how many good ones there still are, trust that people still know and care about the difference between blogging and journalism and try to avoid blaming the industry's slow slide on bloggers because, as "new media" types offering something that isn't journalism at the same time people can't be bothered reading newspapers.


It seems to me, Joe, that it is wrong to say that there is a diffence between "blogging and journalism." Sometimes blogging is opinion; sometimes poetry; sometimes personal journal; sometimes an organizing tool; sometimes an exchange of ideas and opinion; sometimes a resource for data; and, sometimes, it is journalism the way Skube describes it.

Imagine a Venn diagram with its overlapping circles. The journalism and blogging circles overlap. It would be absurd to say that print isn't journalism or that TV isn't journalism. Sometimes they are. Just as, sometimes, blogging is.


I like the way Roch analyzes this . . . and would take it one step farther.

With the rise of Fox News and the complicity of the MSM in Bush's War in Iraq, the illusion of objectivity in traditional journalism has been dashed to pieces. Faced with increasing scrutiny . . . and to no one's surprise . . . journalists have been found to be imperfect.

Once upon a time, those imperfections were showcased only in letters to the editor. Today, they are plastered on blogs within minutes of being discovered. If I were a journalist, I wouldn't like it either.

Northern Observer

Blogging would never have taken off as it has if journalists had remained committed to the truth instead of evenhandedness. The entire profession has been deminished by this.
When Jim Leher says that it is not his job to correct a interviewee for lying to his face (and hence the publics face), there is something deeply wrong with the profession.
With this morally neutral stance, the modern journalist has lost his social utility to the public. He just an empty suit that repeats what he's told. We've come a long long way from Upton Sinclair and Ma Tarbell.

cara michele

At the risk of incurring the wrath of my fellow bloggers, I have to say that I think Skube made some valid points.

As to his thesis, this sentence summed it up for me:

"The more important the story, the more incidental our opinions become."



I guess in my mind journalism isn't just newspapering or TV reporting -- it includes some basic bedrock principles that I see embraced by very few bloggers. Journalism as an industry or an undertaking certainly has its weak points, its limitations, its failings -- but I think the basics are sound

I do think SOME blogging counts as journalism, of course. And of course not all bloggers are doing the same thing. But I think the frustration of reporters who hate bloggers and blogging is that they can (and do) do more harm than good while insisting that what they do is journalism, is better than journalism.

But push come to shove, I think bloggers do unwittingly and grudgingly end up acting much the same way journalists do, making the same decisions. The flap over the RMA report was actually a good example of that. I knew a couple of bloggers AND media outlets who had the thing before the last Converge conference and they all made the same decision -- not to print it, to print redacted versions, to read it and tell people the parts of it that they thought should be public -- all after months of criticizing "the mainstream media" for doing just that.

When someone made the decision to finally just put it out there it caused something of a flap and a rift in the local blogosphere, some people quit Greensboro 101's board...much the way it would have happened at a newspaper with such a controversial decision coming down.

Ed Cone

If he was just critiquing opinion-writing there would be no problem. He could have said the same about newspaper op-eds, or Sean Not a Journalist Hannity.

The reaction is to his blanket statements about a medium with many uses, his false comparison of that broad medium to a particular type of traditional journalism, and his failure to use in his own work the journalistic standards he claims to defend.

Go back and read the piece (linked above) I wrote about his earlier op-ed in 2005 -- as I said there, "I did more reporting about Skube's column than he did to write it."

cara michele

I read that earlier thread, Ed, and you did make the point that Skube was writing about something he hadn't researched. (Bad form!)

But some of the things he says in the current opinion piece -- "the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined" -- definitely seem valid, both in blog posts and comment threads.

And he is correct that "traditional" journalism (feet-on-the-street-reporting) broadens and deepens the story in a way that most bloggers can't or don't.

Re: "Opinion blogging." So bloggers have opinions. Big deal. EVERYBODY has an opinion. ;) I think we could all benefit from a little more humility. (I know I could, anyway.)


"I guess in my mind journalism isn't just newspapering or TV reporting -- it includes some basic bedrock principles that I see embraced by very few bloggers." - Joe

Right, Joe. Of course. "Very few" is subjective yet acknowedges that some bloggers act as journalists sometimes. Let us also note that some "journalists" (Skube's latest being an example) don't always meet the standards you speak of either. So it's meaningless to say journalists practice journalism (some times they do and sometimes they don't) and that bloggers don't practice journalism (sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.)

Judging the value of the journalistic efforts in the blogosphere by their proportion to other content is as eaually absurd. Apply the same measure to the N&R and we'd find ourselves saying that most of the newspaper isn't journalism. Display advertising, weather, sports scores, comics, puzzles, classified ads and opinion make journalism a minority portion of the newspaper -- just as it is a minority portion of blogs.

Joe Killian

A veteran reporter once said to me, while talking about blogs, something like:

"People act like suddenly the atmosphere is worse, or there's more partisanship or bickering or conspiracy theories or sniping. But that stuff was always there. They just all have blogs now -- all the good, reasonable, sound minded people who wrote letters to the editor before blogs are still there. And the ones who just sat in their living rooms cursing at the television and newspaper and hating everyone and everything - or one specific thing or person - their voices are no amplified, too."

Of course, as in just about everything, the people with the least constructive things to say are usually the loudest.


Regarding Skube's "loudest corner of the internet"--what is "loud" in the blogosphere? There is no volume button. Is THIS LOUD!!!! Is loud a synonym for most-read? Most content? Or is Skube using loud to describe boisterous, in essence saying the most boisterous corner of the internet is the most boisterous?

Duckman GR


There's a couple of problems with Skube's article. His universal blanket to blogging so broadens his point that it becomes meaningless. If you focus it to political blogging then his "points" become trite and obvious.

The letter I sent to the LA Times (posted on my blog) argues that his citation from Lasch's past writings is patently absurd in todays environment, given the lies, executive privilege, etc from the White House/GOP, and the near absolute failures of the media to actually report the news. I cite Bush's scripted "press conference" just prior to the invasion of Iraq, and the US Attorney scandal as examples of the difference between blogs and the news media.

He wants debate to solve our problems, but have you seen that debate anywhere besides the blogs? Mostly he just focused on Kos and the shrill and vituperitive bloggers who deign to speak and ask questions of the powers that be, by belittling and name calling and dismissive gestures.

And this man teaches journalism, and demonstrtes through his writing what ails the journalism business these days, entrenched elitists concerned with their comfortable world and not the real world.

Ed Cone

Writing about "blogs" in some generalized sense is like writing about legal pads, or computers. It's a publishing medium, not a type of writing or journalism.

Skube didn't do his reporting in 2005, or for today's piece that pines for "the patient sifting of fact, the acknowledgment that assertion is not evidence...the depiction of real life."

Nice irony in his last graf, which contrasts "top-of-the-head comment" in blogs with "what lodges in the memory, and sometimes knifes us in the heart, is the fidelity with which a writer observes and tells." One thing that lodged in memory and seems to be doing a little knifing today is a two-year-old fact-based blog post that sifts facts and shows that Skube's assertions are not evidence.

Joe Killian


I always think of "loud" as boisterous, sure - but also persistent to the point of harassment, just a constant barrage of poor reasoning, insults, really awful rhetoric.

There are bloggers and people who post on blogs who will come to certain blogs (this one included) every hour on the hour and post a dozen times a day just to argue for the sake of arguing, to insult the blogger or people in the thread, to take what could be constructive conversations completely off course.

There are also bloggers in the GSO blogosphere who've taken this off of the blogs - who have e-mailed me personally to curse at and insult me over something I've commented on or for not commenting when they think I should.

That's loud, whatever the actual volume -- and it can be so loud you can't hear yourself think.

cara michele

Duckman, I'm not arguing with your perspective, just saying that I think Skube made some valid points.

Jay Rosen

Cara: the existence of valid points means that all the totally invalid points are wrecking the portrayal of something that is portrayable: too much "opinion" chasing two few facts is not good at all for public understanding. Skube would say that, I think most amateur bloggers would too. "The press should do more in depth investigations, rather than add to the store of top-o-head opinions." Skube would say that. The people he thinks he's debunking would too.

The fact that he still does not know about, nor reckon with, exceptions like Josh Marshall's site, even though he was told about them, suggests a lack of curiosity across two years (2005 to 2007) that falls below minimal standards in the very craft he thinks he's upholding.


I'm late to this particular party, but I just want to commend you, Mr. Cone.

Ethics matters.


Yesterday, I invited Mr. Skube by email to join this discussion.


Just letting people know, we seem to have two discussions going on about this issue. I'll continue my particular thread on this page now. Linked is where I'm coming from...



Skube's "assertion of fact" was based on a random sampling of blogs, which was bound to turn up more bad than good. He blindly trusted his editor to insert blog examples relevant to his position, which, in hindsight, he would admit as a mistake. Yes, there are flaws in the piece. None of them invalidate his arguments. As I argued on the other page, you cannot claim that he is a hypocrite, and use that as justification to attack his credibility. You can certainly disagree with him, though.

Ed Cone

"Skube's 'assertion of fact' was based on a random sampling of blogs."

Really? The LAT article includes only a handful of very well-known blogs, and he told Josh Marshall that he hadn't even spent time at all of those.

And this is from my piece, written after his previous column: "I asked him what blogs he had read to prepare for his column. He told me he found that to be a very strange question. 'I scanned a bunch of blogs,' he said, but was able to summon only one (Andrew Sullivan's) by name." As I spoke to him, it sounded very much as if he had read few, if any, and certainly had not gained anything like the knowledge required to make the statements he did.

As I said in the other thread in response to your statement that it's an opinion column and there's "nothing wrong with Skube's article", We're entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. When an opinion columnist makes an assertion of fact that is incorrect, being an opinion columnist is no defense (I'm an opinion columnist, btw, as well as a reporter and a blogger).

Dude gets facts wrong, e.g., the bloggers he cites by name all get paid for their writing, but he says they write for free. He ascribes things to writers he later admits to not reading. He makes generalizations that swamp his particulars. And he does it all while lionizing a craft that supposedly rises above such things.

(Note also that my post above these comments is actually about an even-more egregious column Skube wrote in 2005 -- which makes his repeated offense worse).

You are entitled to your opinion that Skube's points about argumentative blogs overshadow the flaws in his piece. I would disagree.

Earlier in this thread, Jay Rosen addresses the manner in which the flaws in his LAT column work against the arguments therein with which we would all agree.


In case those reading missed my previous arguments:

I agree he should have done more research before writing his article, but that doesn't change the absolute accuracy of his assessment. Of course an article condemning the journalistic nature of blogging would be upsetting to bloggers. So go blog about how upset you are, and leave real journalism to professionals - fallible though they are.

I think it's fair to say that a skimming of blogs on the Internet will reveal more "bad" blogs than "good" blogs, in the sense that Skube was judging them. He accurately expressed his experience. Yes, more research would have found "good" blogs to soften his tone, but exceptions to the rule do not invalidate his point.

Skube's article was an opinion piece, yet you're holding him accountable to standards that only apply to fair and balanced (un-opinionated) news. If I understand your argument correctly, his fatal flaw is that he is a hypocrite - but that incorrectly assumes that opinion articles and news articles share the same set of standards. There is nothing wrong with Skube's article, and at the same time, I support the rebuttal piece showcasing the positive side of blogs.

When I said "there is nothing wrong with Skube's article," I didn't mean to excuse the obvious flaws of the examples inserted by the editor. I meant that the main idea of the article still stood, and that it was still a valid opinion piece. Randomly surfing the Internet turns up a majority of junk, including junk blogs claiming to be citizen journalists. Can anyone disagree with that?

It sounds like we're debating how many blogs Skube looked at in preparation to his piece. He says he scanned a bunch. You say it didn't sound like it. We can't debate over that.

We're also debating the ratio of quality blogs to junk blogs. I don't have statistics for that.


What I find interesting here, having watched this whole thing over the course of two days now (and having looked at what developed here and the other link Mr. Cone provided above) we have a situation, very different from a web posting, where an author makes him/herself available and part of the melee. Instead it appears that Mr. Cone seems - on the other blog thread - to be writing comments that seem to present the "author's" point of view, whether protecting him or whatever - when it is clear that the author himself could do that independently - but is choosing not to do so.

He seems to be hiding here. He started this but is unwilling to come forward and debate.

Admittedly the internet can be contentious. But we've all submitted ourselves to that, we've engaged and debated, licked our wounds at times.

So what we seem to have is an individual who wants the right to snipe at bloggers, without even giving their blogs a fair chance. And now when bloggers across the spectrum turn out to debate, this Skube turns tail and won't even enter the field!

It's pathetic really. Pathetic.

Mr. Skube, in addition to everything else, you have proved yourself a coward. Unable to debate. Unable to apologize. And apparently expecting Mr. Cone to come out and present your view of things for you.

This has been a fascinating interchange. And I look forward to Jay's article. I commend all who have taken part in the crowdsourcing effort.

But the saddest thing in this whole business is Mr. Skube. Without. A . Doubt!

Ed Cone

I missed the part where I defended Skube or presented his POV.

Joe Killian

I hate it when people say something like "I'm entitled to my opinion and you yours -- they're equally valid."

Well, no.

Not if your opinion isn't based on anything, or based on something moronic. Not if you hold your opinion to the exclusion of logic or reason.

All opinions are not equally valid. And the fact that someone's written an opinion piece doesn't excuse them from having to do research and not present things as given that are just demonstrably false. When I was a college newspaper editor we would send poorly reasoned columns that had misstatements of fact back to the columnist for correction.


Mr. Cone, if I erred on that, I apologize. (it was on the other thread that I may have misunderstood your interjections).

Your work is nothing if not commendable!

And I posted something to that effect on Jay's blog - unfortunately at the end of yesterday's thread, not today's as I had intended.

My hat is off to you, Sir!

Ed Cone

No problem. I did jump in a couple of times when people were trashing Elon -- not only is it a good college, but dumping on it as obscure goes against the whole anti-elitist vibe that bloggers represent.

I've been pretty consistent in my criticism of Skube's arguments since 2005. I do wish he'd show up here and speak for himself, but it's going to be hard for him to ignore Jay Rosen's upcoming piece at LAT.


"None of them invalidate his arguments."

What is his argument? I'm still trying to grasp it. It sems to be that the most boisterous corner of the internet is the most boisterous.


Elon College is a stone's throw down the road from Ed Cone's Greensboro, NC. Mr. Skube is a neighbor. This discussion has been brought to his attention and he has, thus far, declined to drop by. Is this blog that despicable or is there something more basic--blogs' ability to hold "authorities" to account, perhaps--that Skube finds objectionable?


Here's how I would summarize Dr. Skube's article.

Bloggers are not journalists. Journalists disseminate information in a fair, balanced and truthful way. Bloggers immediately pick sides on the issues they write about, and seek to carve out their personality for the sake of greater readership. A blogger who writes about topics in a moderate way is boring to read. It's in a blog's nature to be on the extreme, while it's in a journalist's nature, and additionally, their professional obligation, to report all sides of a story (however detrimental this may be as Northern Observer observed). He questions how much weight the "national conversation" generated by bloggers should hold, because it is his belief that the majority of blogs are a collection of ill informed opinions.

In my view, you can disagree on the following grounds:

1. What Dr. Skube considers "the average blog" misrepresents what "the average blog" actually is.
2. If you do not disagree with #1, then the "national conversation" generated by ill informed opinions does more good than harm.
3. The subject of blogs is too broad for one to adequately form an opinion about it.

However, it is not valid to disagree on the following grounds:

1. Dr. Skube's editor inserted erroneous examples of blogs, that he was not familiar with.
2. There are exceptions to his generalization.


J.D. @ 8:24:

Your contention that the editor inserted examples and that Mr. Skube is not responsible for what was inserted has been disputed by none other than Jay Rosen, who states that while editors may make suggestions, the writer assumes responsibility to accepting those suggestions.

It has been my experience that prior to a letter to the editor of the NY Times being printed, if there have been editorial changes, the writer must sign off that he or she approves the letter to be printed.

One can thus certainly disagree with your contention. And most commentators I've read on this do so.

brad krantz

Let me think..... to paraphrase Mr. Jefferson, would I rather have a world with journalists and no bloggers, or a world with bloggers but no journalists...??

I find it hilarious that we've quickly moved into a world where people confidently and proudly say "I don't get my news from tv or newspapers, I get it from the internet." You know, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning, 24-hour INTERNET news service... investigative INTERNET "journalists" like Mr. Drudge and Mrs. GoogleNews.

Ed Cone

Some context.

By the way, JD, why do you post anonymously?


JD, that seems like a reasonable interpretation, although one sure has to do a lot of readin between the lines to get there.

Brad, you didn't really just step into the blogger or journalist hole, did you? In which of your imagined worlds would one would find Ed Cone? The world of only bloggers ot the world of only journalists?

The CA

This seems to be about territory and labels. Ben Holder is a good example of a blogger who sometimes is a "journalist" breaking new stories, and is sometimes an opinion writer. Most bloggers are the latter, because they lack the time and/or resources to investigate and break stories. Ben has been in both worlds, and plays by his own rules. That doesn't make him less of a journalist when he puts on that hat.

Ed broke the Elizabeth Edwards story from an interview he had with her. That was journalism. At the same time, he also writes a lot of opinion pieces or at least links to them so one gets where he is coming from. That is a different hat.

Killian is a journalist when he writes for the N&R, but not always a journalist on his blog where he offers his opinions and interacts with others.

I think that Skube is overbroad when he lumps all bloggers into "them" as competition for the title of journalist. Most bloggers aren't pretending to be journalists and could care less how they are labeled. Those who want to follow traditional journalist routes aren't any less entitled to the label simply because they blog.

There seems to be some old media doctrine of mutual exclusivity where one must choose between the traditional journalist mode and the blogger mode, but cannot simultaneously be both. People like Ben and Joe and Ed show that is not true.

I don't care if anyone thinks I'm a journalist or not. I don't claim to be one. I didn't go to J-school, and I don't write news stories. I comment on them. Newspapers are filled with such people. They are called opinion writers. There are good ones and there are bad ones, but they exist. Most blogs are simply an extension of that with the added bonus of instant interaction with the author and others about the opinion/piece/subject.

Sometimes the presentation is hostile and way over the top, but so is real life conversation and opinion. Perhaps what Skube laments is that blogging has brought that real life interaction into the open. For years, newspapers talked about wanting to know what people are really thinking. Blogs answer that.

Ed is right in that it is just a medium. Roch is right in that it can be so much more than just "news" but so are newspapers as has been pointed out.

Traditional journalists also suffer from the same criticism that is leveled at blogs. Not all traditional journalist are fair and balanced, and not all bloggers are biased. To make the medium the line of separation between what is fair and balanced or legitimate news is overly simplistic.

Plus, my money is that "they" will all be doing it too soon. Any blogger who wants to be considered a journalist simply needs to be prepared to cite his/her sources. Everything else is just opinion or art, and there is nothing wrong with that. People are smart enough to know the difference.

Joe Killian

Not a bad summation, Sam.

I think I agree with most of it.

I think my experience with reporters and bloggers lead me to believe it's a question of ethics as much as of labels. Most journalists I know at least aspire to certain ethical principles that many if not most bloggers disregard. Which is fine -- because they're professional ethics. Most bloggers aren't doing what they do professionally, and not for news organizations.

I think the "turf" thing -- to the degree it exists at all beyond the minds of those with their heels dug in and their ears closed -- comes down to whether people are, as you say, smart enough to tell the difference. Anyone who's worked at a newspaper for any length of time has experienced a staggering number of people being unable to tell the difference between a news story and a column...so it's scary for us.

The CA

But there are bloggers who might follow those same ethical standards even though they don't have to. In many ways, the First Amendment itself is about ethical standards as it has been interpreted by the courts. There are limits and rules placed on free speech, such as time and place and policy considerations. But we have seen that jurisprudence change over time just as journalistic ethics may have to evolve as well.

Some might say for example that the hush-hush over JFK's known womanizing was merely adhering to journalistic ethics over decency. Or outside the world of politics, many in the press knew that the Beatles weren't as clean as their image, but never reported on what they knew to avoid embarrassing the band.

Today, a journalist would never honor such a code of silence in either case.

Jeffrey Sykes

Maybe Skube and others with his view should read this paper presented by Winthrop University Professor Larry Timbs.


I'd agree with The CA's interpretation about territories and labels. Journalists can certainly have blogs, and as long as the line doesn't get blurred, I'm comfortable with that. It's dangerously easy for a blogger to engage in Michael Moore's brand of "journalism" because so much content in a blog stems from an opinion, as opposed to events or facts. I'm referring to those blog entries where the author googles a bunch supporting webpages and links to them in the post as proof that they did their research and their opinion is right. That's not what a real journalist would do.

I thought everybody else was posting anonymously, too, but I guess you all already knew each other. I have Elon connections, hence my interest in this particular thread, but I'd rather not share more than that. I have appreciated and been educated by the debate thus far.

Ed Cone

Thanks, JD. This thread has attracted readers from all over the country, people don't necessarily know each other, and aren't known to me. While I disagree with your parsing of the text, I appreciate your support of your associate.

The comments to this entry are closed.