Attack of the Blogs Dumb Journalists

1114Daniel Lyon heaves a big ole rock at a hornet’s nest in the upcoming Forbes, opening fire at Bloggers in a column called Attack of the Blogs.

Allow me to open and close nominations for what is a surefire winner for the dumbest dead tree cover story ever written award:

Lyon’s article is stunningly errant in its lack of understanding of oh so many things, one does not even know where to begin. Its simply dumb in too many ways to count.

But what the hell, lets give it the old college try:

Let’s start with the basic principle that bloggers are but a drop in the ocean in an enormous mainstream media sea. 99% of blogs get almost no traffic. Even this blog, which is (just barely) in the Truth Laid Bare Top 100, gets less than 10,000 hits per day.

Compare that with the circulation of major newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio, etc. The blogosphere is totally dwarfed by mainstream media. It makes one wonder about the foolish strategic error of elevating the "enemy" to one’s own level. Why give free press to your opponent, most especially if he is much smaller than you? There’s a reason established candidates with double digit poll leads don’t debate their lesser challengers.

Of course, if the Mainstream Media were doing their jobs better, the blogosphere might not have any clout at all; bloggers merely stepped in to fill the huge void developed when the Press stopped doing what they were supposed to do.

The anti-bloggers might consider this in more detail: the Fourth Estate has utterly failed its charge to be the vigorous watchdog and counter-weight to government and corporate interests this countries founders  envisioned it to be. This has been increasingly so over the past 10 years. Budget cuts have sliced funding for hard hitting investigative journalism; the focus on ratings has mostly neutered television news; the obsessive focus on sensationalism (think OJ or Lacie Peterson or Michael Jackson trials) is an outgrowth of the cult of superficial celebrity worship. The FCC has allowed the Public airwaves to stay in the hands of those whose appreciation and understanding of the privilege seems to be ever decreasing.

That’s before we even get to the sheer hypocrisy — this coming from Forbes, who has been running an ongoing "Best of the Blogs" section for several years now. It even makes one suspect that the purposefully irritant story is a corporate gadfly attack designed to generate some controversy, buzz and sales in the style of the  shrill blonde harpy.

As to that hornet’s nest, criticism has already begun coming from too many places to count. boing boing, Doc  Searls, techdirt, Micro Persuasion, live journal, Infectious Greed, et. al. all criticize how poorly tohught out and argued the column was. Even BusinessWeek was compelled to note how bad the advice given in a related Forbes sidebar (Fighting Back).

But without a doubt the best response was a clever bit of satire by Kurt Opsahl, an EFF attorney. He parallels the Forbes drivel in a brilliant send up titled Attack of the Printing Press! Substituting the words "Printing Press" and "pamphleteers" for "Blogs," he places the entire debate in the setting of the US revolution with devastating effectiveness:

Printing presses are the prized platform of a public lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Ben Franklin and John Hancock.

Take the tea tax. Revenue was coming, providing much needed funding to help with his Majesty’s benevolent aims in the colonies.

Then the pamphleteers attacked. A supposed crusading journalist launched a broadsheet long on invective and wobbly on facts, posting articles with his printing press calling your King "deceitful,""unethical,""incredibly stupid" and "a pathological liar" who had misled the colonists. The author claimed to be “Silence Dogood,” a middle-aged widow who started a one-woman "watchdog" pamphlet, to expose alleged regal excess…

Printing presses started being used a few years ago as a simple way for people to publish bibles. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for insulting His Majesty, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. It’s not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can’t even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory. King George has been hammered by pamphleteers; so have the Penn family, King Louis XIV, two research boutiques that criticized separatist colonials, the maker of scotch whiskey, a Virginia governor outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims—even a right-wing pamphleteer who dared defend a printing press-mob scapegoat.

"Pamphleteers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says the Governor of New York, "There is bad information out there in the pamphlets, and you have only hours to get ahead of it and cut it off, especially if it’s juicy."

Read the entire piece.

If it wasn’t for that pesky First Amendment . . .


Attack of the Printing Press!   
Kurt Opsahl
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), October 28, 2005

Attack of the Blogs
Daniel Lyons, 11.14.05
On The Cover/Top Stories


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Justice Litle commented on Oct 29

    Is it just me, or does Forbes seem consistently and at times amazingly off-key, tone deaf and out of touch.

    Their infamous trashing-of-hedge-funds piece was one giant suckup to Fidelity and the rest of the old guard mutual fund ilk.

    Then when the NYSE announced the ARCA deal, Forbes ran a piece saying the implications had no significance, because the changes would primarily benefit small investors, who ‘don’t really matter’. The writer actually, literally said “I don’t care.” Talk about pigheaded and infuriating.

    I don’t know if it’s their editors or the office culture or what, but somehow they manage to come off as elitist and incompetent at the same time. FORTUNE, on the other hand, seems to crank out consistently good stuff, with at least a few dynamite pieces each year. Go figure.

  2. CaptiousNut commented on Oct 29

    Of all the terrible Big Media articles on blogs, I don’t even think this Forbes one makes the list. Businessweek ran a cover story in May that was 100 times worse. Some of the article’s lowlights with my parenthetical comments:

    Most of you are sick to death of blogs (QUITE A PRESUMPTION)

    And yes, there’s plenty out there not to like. Self-obsession, politics of hate, and the same hunger for fame that has people lining up to trade punches on The Jerry Springer Show. (NOTHING TO LIKE?)

    Name just about anything that’s sick in our society today, and it’s on parade in the blogs (HOW ABOUT MAINSTREAM MEDIA?)

    On lots of them, even the writing stinks. ( read: BLOGGERS ARE RANK AMATEURS)

    Let’s assume that 99.9% (of blogs) are equally off point…. (SO FAR 99,9% OF THIS ARTICLE IS “OFF POINT”)

    If it’s scandalous, a poisonous e-mail from a CEO, for example, or torture pictures from a prison camp,…

    And here’s the killer: Blog posts linger on the Web forever. (“LINGER”?)

    Whether at newspapers or global manufacturing giants, they decide what the masses will learn.

    This elite still holds sway at most companies. You know them.

    This raises all kinds of questions about the ever-shrinking wall between advertising and editorial.

    Any chance that a blog bubble could pop? (LUDDITE WISHFUL THINKING)

    The difference is that while dot-coms promised to make loads of money, blogs flex their power mostly by disrupting the status quo.

    A prediction: Mainstream media companies will master blogs as an advertising tool and take over vast commercial stretches of the blogosphere. (MORE WISHFUL THINKING)

    ….and earn some pocket change

    Popular blogs can land sponsorship deals for as much as $25,000 per month, say consultants. O.K. money for an entrepreneur, but a rounding error in the ad industry. (IF THIS WRITER COULD BLOG FOR HALF OF THAT, HE WOULD QUIT BUSINESSWEEK IN A NANOSECOND.)

    The big companies have what the bloggers lack. Scale, relations with advertisers, and large sales forces. They can use these forces to sell across all media, from general audience to bloggy niches. (MORE SELF-SERVING WISHFUL THINKING.)

    link to that article:

    link to my entire fisking:

  3. I, Hans. commented on Oct 30

    Barry is far to modest.

    The Big Picture: Attack of the Blogs Dumb Journalists: Let’s start with the basic principle that bloggers are but a drop in the ocean in an enormous mainstream media sea. 99% of blogs get almost no traffic. Even this

  4. I, Hans. commented on Oct 30

    Barry is far too modest.

    The Big Picture: Attack of the Blogs Dumb Journalists: Let’s start with the basic principle that bloggers are but a drop in the ocean in an enormous mainstream media sea. 99% of blogs get almost no traffic. Even this

  5. The Prudent Investor commented on Oct 30

    10,000 hits/day is a benchmark for all other econ blogs I’d say. If it were about pagehits only I’d write a sex-blog. Looking rather at unique visitors and the time they spend I am quite happy to see an average of 350 visitors of whom 97% spend between 30 seconds and more than an hour reading my rants. And I have found out that webstats are a good indicator for what’s happening in the financial world. Refco-victim Bawag hit me multiple times in the 3 days before Refco blew up. So what conclusion should I draw form the fact that I had more than 500 high-quality names (IMF, World Bank, Wall Street firms, MSM )hitting da blog last week coming from searches containing the words Refco, Ross Capital, Flottl, Bermuda? Guess I’ll stay alert on this topic as it seems there will be more to blog.

  6. The Prudent Investor commented on Oct 30

    Oh, and I almost forgot my very own experience of prominent bloggers threatening to send their cold-blooded attorneys at my throat, silencing me with drawn-out lawsuits concerning trademark infringement.
    Watch out, I know enough about American solutions to serious conflicts.
    See me riding down Main Street, hands close to my peacemakers with only the screeching sound of swinging saloon doors disturbing the eerie silence that pre-announces my dark-voiced request that soft-skinned cowards hiding behind legal eagles should better step forward to fight it out from man to man…

  7. jjr commented on Oct 30

    Daniel Lyons has an illustrious past writing incindiary and pugnacious articles about open source and the open source community, particularly in the realm of SCOX and their failing lawsuit against IBM. He is a hack, in the old newspaperman use of the term. Forbes isn’t really the bastion of editorial integrity either. If Lyons didn’t come across as such an idiot, it might be possible to attribute more nefarious motives to his writing. But the simplest explanation holds here … controversy draws in eyeballs.

  8. David Andrew Taylor commented on Nov 1

    You get the notion that mainstream media thinks they are the only ones who have an opinion and should be allowed to express it. That’s exactly why I blog. Mainstream media be damned.

  9. Fairly Honorable commented on Nov 4

    Dan Lyons was a would-be Douglas Coupland, but his Microsoft-bashing novel never sold, so he went over to the dark side in a bid to cash in. No wonder he hates anti-Microsoft bloggers who actually make a difference. I doubt Microsoft even has to pay him, unlike the paid shills and astroturf libertarians over at TechCentralStation. Sad.

  10. Ecacofonix commented on Jun 4

    While we are discussing the attack of the blogs dumb journalists, on a lighter vein I thought I’d let you know of a dumb site…it is even called DumbList!

    Can you imagine, this chap actually collects money from people and curses them for it. And over a dozen suckers have already paid up for it…interesting!

    See Dumb List – Where Suckers Converge!

  11. john beck commented on Aug 19

    Heck, if they make it too hard to get music, people might even go back to making their own, like they used to do!

  12. leo commented on Sep 8

    I don know but why i don find such informative and profitable blogs so often,I suspect blogging world is becoming so small that we cant find such lucrative blogs like this one.

  13. leo commented on Sep 8

    I don know but why i don find such informative and profitable blogs so often,I suspect blogging world is becoming so small that we cant find such lucrative blogs like this one.

  14. Natural Gain Plus commented on Jun 8

    We have helped literally thousands of men successfully enlarge their penis and increase their performance our pills are thoroughly tested and naturaly enlarge your penis.

Posted Under