Wednesday, January 19, 2005


My other column is a blog

Mischa was nice, Paris . . . not so much More music later, but first this. There are things every smart reader has to hate about blogs in general and pop culture ones in particular. Some of my personal favourite pet peeves are the self-referential “laundry list” and the “me too.”

The laundry list (“I went here, then I went there, I ate this, the girl in line who asked me for a smoke looked like Lindsay Lohan.”) is particularly annoying when the writer is enjoying exclusive – often free - access to something they have the temerity to complain about. This approach isn’t always fatal (some people are talented enough to transform a trip to the Mac's into interesting, even hilarious, reading) but most laundry listers leave you with the feeling that you’re reading some 15 year-old’s diary (which, in some cases, you are).

“Me toos” are a sadder bunch, they have nothing to say themselves, but are more than happy to add a link to Boing Boing without adding any insight of their own (Mea culpa on this one lately, BTW.) Not all link gatherers are “me toos” (Chromewaves, Largehearted Boy and the aforementioned Boing, do such a good job of bringing together info from such a wide variety of sources . . . it's like talking to a well connected buddy) but many more folks are unfortunately biters and not writers.

At any rate, it’s nice to know that the mainstream media will always provide a harbour from the navel-gazing and amateurism in the bloggosphere.

“Old media” reporters have the most access, the most cash, the most time and the most training. People answer their phone calls and send them press releases. They’ve been taught principles like “Balance”™ and “Objectivity.”™ They couldn’t possibly be paid to write work that wouldn’t get them a link to Tofu Hut, could they?

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Globe and Mail television columnist Andrew Ryan.

Periodically, Mr. Ryan (or his colleague the estimable John Doyle) head to L.A. to file their “reportage” from the TV “critics" junket (the junket might be annual, I’m a blogger, I can’t be bothered to do research). The “critics” go from presentation to presentation musing about the schwingyness of the PR flacks ("I had to doubly assure one pert cable publicist I would indeed be writing a feature on The Dog Whisperer, whatever that might be") praising the food that’s being served ("leave me alone with the fine sushi buffet.") swooning about the celebrities who were nice to them ("Mischa Barton . . . patiently posed for pictures and took time to talk to journalists") and nursing hurt feelings when others weren’t ("When people tried to talk to (Paris Hilton) she whispered a bit and ran away.").

All the while, they’re committing the essential mistake that millions of bloggers make every day: Assuming the reader gives a rat’s ass.

Memo to Mr. Ryan; sports reporters who complain in print about the food in the press box; and campaign trail reporters who use public airtime to complain about hearing the same stump speech over and over again every day for six weeks:

Stow it, we don’t care.

We don't read the newspaper to hear your gripes, listen to your wedding plans or know that "your big head got on (Entertainment Tonight)."

Your job is a position of privilege, just like the professional athletes, actors, politicians and pitchmen you cover and brag/complain about. The areas you cover are called “subject matter” because THEY are the subject. You are, ostensibly, paid to bring insight events you attend; to provide information, analysis or humour that the average amateur can’t. If you can’t do that, get out of the way and give the job to the kids at Defamer.

At least they’re not pretending to be journalists.

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