Archive for January 17th, 2005

The Gray Lady Dithers

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We
love it when the various voices on our computer sound like they’re talking
to each other. Sometimes they actually are, but mostly it
is just serendipitous juxtapositioning which nevertheless exposes counterbalance
and fault lines
in arguments which would be invisible if taken alone.

For example, yesterday Dave
Winer
, writing on the lasting need for blogs,
noted that the force that got the phenomena started was a failure on the
part of the journalism professionals:

My main message for the pros at next week’s conference. If it weren’t
for the callous lack of credibility of the pros, there never would have
been a need for blogs. (from Scripting)

Then, a few hours later, sleepless in Watertown, we came across this William
Safire editorial
in today’s New York Times which is still several hours
away from being slapped
down on our snow-covered front porch.

America’s quality media are now wading through the Slough
of Despond. Our self-flagellation, handwringing and narcissism threaten
our mission to act as counterweight to government power.

Cheer up. Despite the recent lapses at CBS and previous mishaps at The
Times and USA Today, here’s why mainstream journalism has a future.

1. On the challenge from bloggers: The "platform" – print, TV,
Internet, telepathy, whatever – will change, but the public hunger for
reliable information will grow. Blogs will compete with op-ed columns for "views
you can use," and the best will morph out of the pajama game to
deliver serious analysis and fresh information, someday prospering
with ads and
subscriptions. The prospect of profit will bring bloggers in from the
meanstream to the mainstream center of comment and local news coverage.

On national or global events, however, the news consumer needs trained reporters
on the scene to transmit facts and trustworthy editors to judge significance.
In crises, large media gathering-places are needed to respond to a need for national
community.

Despite Safire’s insufferable conceit in self-labeling his work "Quality
Media" (by implication relegating all bloggers and such to the "lower-quality"
ranking), it is good to know that the big boys are looking over their shoulders,
although they obviously have no clue as to why we are gaining on them as
they are stumbling and running out of gas.

As to the gratuitous "pajama" remark, we could ridicule and refute it
more convincingly if we weren’t sitting here, at 5 am, blogging away in
our favorite Tom and Jerry Jammies right now….

Op-ed from the New York Times

Praise for the Pajamahadeen

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One of the factors that has made English the dominant global language (overwhelming military, economic and cultural hegemony may have something to do with it as well) is the plasticity and adjustability of its lexicon. Unlike Spanish or French, there is no “Royal Academy” prescribing what is linguistically correct or acceptable. The closest we come are a handful of authoratative dictionaries and web sites which document rather than dictate the changing English landscape. The language can evolve and adapt, invent words and steal them from other languages or groups.

According to a column called The Word in the Sunday Globe the Number 1 new word lookup on the Merriman Webster online dictionary was – BLOG! Hard to believe that many people didn’t know what it meant!

WHAT WORDS WERE we using in 2004? Merriam-Webster knows: Its list of the year’s Top 10 terms is not a committee’s inventive effort but a dispassionate tally of lookups in its online dictionaries and thesaurus  m-w.com). And though blog ranks No. 1, politics and war are predictably dominant: Incumbent, electoral, insurgent, partisan, and sovereignty are all on the list.

Blog would have been old news at ADS  www.americandialect.org) whose members named it Most Likely to Succeed two years ago. But the blogosphere was winningly represented by the Most Creative word of 2004, pajamahadeen, or ”bloggers who challenge and fact-check traditional media.” The coinage, attributed to Jim Geraghty of National Review Online, was provoked by ex-CBS executive Jonathan Klein, who appeared on ”The O’Reilly Factor,” as Rathergate loomed, to defend traditional newsgathering.

The Word column by Jan Freeman

We Will Never Forget

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