The bloggers spending countless, self-indulgent hours in front of the computer screen chronicling any drivel that comes to mind makes the job of defending the relevancy and importance of the blogosphere difficult for even the most ardent enthusiast of new media. Everything from vitriolic ranting to celebrity worship supports claims from mainstream media, like the New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s assertion, during a speech to the staff and alumni of Columbia University’s daily paper, The Spectator, that “At it’s worst, a blog is a one-man circle jerk.” Keller continues to explain throughout an email conversation with Jeff Jarvis, who blogs at BuzzMachine, both his inclination and reservation toward the world of blogging.
Though I certainly respect Keller’s argument, which is predicated on several substantial reasons, one such being “the extent to which they [blogs] are a waste of time…you can while away endless hours, skipping over the surface of half-baked thoughts and every so often colliding with something original or unexpected,” in the end I must throw my hat onto the bloggers’ side. As Jarvis states, “I don’t think that blogging — reading or writing — is a waste of time,” but I do think there are blogs out there that will suck you into the vortex of wastefulness. However, if that stood true for the entire spectrum of blogs, why would major mainstream media folks like Nicholas Lemann feel the need to attack bloggers in his New Yorker piece “Amateur Hour.” And why would the Editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, in his speeches here and here put so much stock in the blog and the internet as the future of journalism?
The answer to the question lies in changing the question itself. The question should be how can newspapers fuse the areas of web and print to complement one another, not how do newspapers keep print versions alive while simultaneously feeding content into the web? Though financial factors inevitably force themselves into the equation, I think profit margins will climb in a direct correlation with the amount of mainstream media personnel that understand that the web is important, and not a forum to be ignored.