Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

More on Bill Keller's Blog-Bashing and BoomTown's Bill-Bashing

Earlier this week, I ranted on about a rant made by New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller.

Readers had a lot of thoughtful reactions.


To recap: Keller (pictured here) had taken wobbly aim at the Web and its bloggers, calling the Internet a “media tsunami” and too much of its fare “unreliable,” such as sites like Wikipedia and Google News.

“Most of the blog world does not even attempt to report. It recycles. It riffs on the news,” he said in a speech he recently gave in London, in that tiresome tsk-tsk way that must be in the mainstream media mandarin handbook. “That’s not bad. It’s just not enough. Not nearly enough.”

BoomTown, of course, disagreed. I wrote: “This is simply not true going forward, and he should have done some reporting on the subject to find out. There is an ever-increasing number of online outlets who are doing most excellent online reporting.”

Readers weighed in.

Wrote Abe Maslow:

That’s an interesting dodge you’re attempting to pull over on us, when you say, ‘This is simply not true going forward…’ What service does that usually useless bit of business jargon mean here?

“And what’s your evidence: You know of an ever-increasing number of bloggers who do reporting. How in the world would that rebut Keller’s point that most (not all, but most) bloggers do no reporting, choosing instead to comment?”

Obviously, I should have removed that caveat of going forward, but I was being polite! I suppose Keller is technically right on most, but it’s really changing fast and seems simply myopic on his part.

First, he has a bunch of great bloggers who report at his newspaper. Too many to list. We have a bunch at Dow Jones, as do all major newspapers, networks and magazines. While those might be considered reporters, they are more than that and relatively new.

In tech and media alone, besides, there are scads who are doing great reporting and analysis and scooping all those newspapers frequently: Om Malik, Rafat Ali, Jeff Jarvis, Nikki Finke, Peter Kafka, Erick Schonfeld, Staci Kramer, Mark Glaser, Matt Marshall, Chris Anderson, Ryan Block, Brian Lam, Nick Carr. I could go on in this and every category–food, travel, gossip, local, all kinds of business.

Still, noted Glenn Kelman:

In this sense, it seems unfair to brand Keller a dinosaur for drawing an accurate distinction about blogging and traditional journalism. Would we have blamed Keller for making the same observation about cable’s sumo pundits?

“I also think your argument ignores a distinction Keller would undoubtedly make, between professional journalists and citizen journalists. We all know it doesn’t matter whether the news is delivered in print, via the Web, or via RSS; a professional journalist like you who breaks news via a blog isn’t whom Keller is talking about.”

Maybe so, but I guess I have to reiterate that I am weary hearing that same old tired tune about how bad blogs are comparatively, since it is increasingly and swiftly not true.

And why beat up on citizen journalists anyway? They are surely additive and often sharper than the so-called professionals.

Maybe Keller is not a dinosaur, but his speech struck me as not exactly forward-looking and, to my mind, the executive editor of the New York Times needs to be that these days.


In fact, I am with Tish Grier, who wrote:

It would be very nice if guys like Keller would come down to where the people are and start talking with the diversity of us–rather than lumping us all under some kind of crazy rubric that fits his particular argument.

“If he listened, he might find out why so many of us blog in the first place; why so many of us really aren’t out to ‘kill’ journalism. He might find that some of us only want to bring in a different perspective to stale discussions that seem to be perpetuated by old windbags (read: columnists).”

As a formerly print-only windbag, now freshly blowing online, I could not agree more.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald