“I think that bloggers have put the issue of professionalism under attack,” said Thomas McPhail, professor of media studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who argues that journalists should be professionally credentialed. “They have no pretense to objectivity. They don’t cover both sides.”
How much stupidity and ignorance has been spouted about blogging by those who either don’t understand it or fear it or both? A great deal.
This quotation comes from Jennifer Lee’s Web Diarists Are Now Official Members of Convention Press Corps in the New York Times. She was writing about the new phenomenon of bloggers covering a national political convention.
Blogging at the Democratic National Convention (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
To the Times’ credit, it does seem to be “getting it” about blogging. There have been two articles about bloggers at the Convention. The second is Blogged in Boston: Politics Gets an Unruly Spin. For a change, the writers of these articles didn’t introduce any condescension into their pieces though Lee did allow Professor McPhail to spout off in a clueless sort of way.
Getting back to the good professor’s comment about bloggers being unprofessional and lacking in objectivity: since when are these virtues so holy? What would he have to say about journalists who covered political conventions in the old days before there were journalism schools or so-called high journalistic standards of objectivity? Is the quality of journalism today so much better than in the past for all the professionalism and objectivity that now supposedly characterizes it?
In addition, I don’t think most bloggers at this Convention made any pretense they were professional journalists. There certainly were journalists at the event who blogged. But most bloggers there were probably not journalists. Does McPhail think that blog readers will be confused–when they read a tendentious, partisan blog–into thinking that the blog is objective? If so, he gives our readers so little credit for intelligence.
Happily the success and prevalence of blogging in our society (and in our political life) will not be dependent on the ignorant comments of people like McPhail. Jay Rosen in PressThink gives us further trash talk from the good professor about blogging.