Monday, May 16, 2005

Newspaper blogs aren't blogs at all

Matt has an interesting post on the recent foray of established newspapers into the blogosphere. The blogosphere is abuzz about the fact that Lorne Gunter has a new blog, as does Arrianna Huffington as well as columnists at the Toronto Star, where Antonia Zerbisias states that "If anybody is wondering, I won't be linking much to the Star's rival papers, the Globe and Mail and the National Post, because they charge for some/most of their content".

Tranlsation: their content might be better than ours, as evidenced by people's willingness to pay for it, so there's no need to link to them. We have advertiser's interests at heart, after all!

Already Zerbisias has been receiving emails concerning her "corporate blog", but she's not just any journo. Heck no, in the intersts of upholding the Charter of Rights and freedoms, she has posted some of those emails!

Hey, don't get me wrong - I can understand why a corporate newspaper blog would want to turn their comments section off. They'll claim that it's to avoid "flamers", which relates to a tragedy of the commons type of outcome stemming from anonymous posts. It happened to the U of A Student Webboard, which was shut down recently.

Zaerbisias claims that: "In fact, you can bet that the suits are watching this blog very nervously because they know that, to maintain even a shred of cybercred, it has to be free-ranging. That they went with the intemperate me as their beta blogger -- others will follow -- suggests that they are either out of their minds or taking this enterprise very seriously."

Translation: The suits are trying to find a way around the Tragedy of the Commons outcome - to keep the content free of any comments that may tip of "da gubbmint" - yeah, it's the government's fault that they can't have a comment feature! What about advertisers?

In order to make the internet "safe" I would reccomend to the "suits" that they move the corporate blogs over to Internet2 and make them visible only in a Maurice Strong-approved ManyOne web browser and leave the rest of us hacks in the dirty, porn-filled cyberspace of the regular Internet.

But back to MKBraaten's post.

MKBraaten states:

"What benefit does corporate blogging actually have to a company’s profit? Especially for a news agency! Although, I can think of a few ideas such as advertisement, I cannot think of any way they could generate material revenues from a blog. Or, maybe they plan on making blogging a subscriber based business model whereby a reader pays a fee to access a blog. If that occurred, I would sell my computers, and never use the net again (ya right) but you get my drift, the one last medium us users have against big media would finally be ‘corporatized.’"

He laments the rise of a two-tiered blogosphere where "professional" journalists are given more credit and accolades than the regular Joes simply due to their affiliation with a newspaper. The new economy is an economy of attention, and the stars are those who command it. Attention = money in the Attention economy. The bloggers have been steadily drawing attention away from the Mainstream Media (we in the blogosphere call it the MSM), so the MSM has adopted the old adage "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!".

If you want to get inside the head of Lorne Gunter, for example, read this post where he welcomes you to his blog in the hopes that you will welcome him into the blogosphere. Gunter's blog is entitled "As I Please" and is befitting of the perversion of the blogosphere by the MSM where the largely one-way direction of communication is imported into the blogosphere. Lorne has noticed that the blogosphere is pissed off with the MSM, but that they are, at least in Canada at the moment, more pisssed off with the government.

Lorne drones on:

"A word about the name I have chosen: I stole it. "As I Please" was what George Orwell called his column at Tribune, a lefty British paper associated with British Labour politician and minister Ney Bevan. Orwell was literary editor there from 1943 until after the Second World War. His "As I Please" pieces were among the finest criticism he did in a lifetime of fine criticism.

I don't claim to be an Orwell, but I have always greatly admired his crisp style and iconoclastic thinking. I hope to do a little honour to his name here."


“I’m a blogger too! I stole an idea from someone else, but only after the Canwest legal team advised me that it was okay, since Orwell is dead. I have named my blog after an obscure literary reference, just like many of you people have done! I have borrowed from not just anyone, but George Orwell, who fought tyranny and satirized the gubbmint!

Lorne, again:

“And now a word about me and this blog: I hate big government. Not just big Liberal governments and big NDP governments, but big governments, period. For a brief time in 2000-2001, I hosted an Internet radio talk show. I used to open each show with what I called the 10 most dangerous words in the English language: I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.

“That's where I'm coming from. As Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address in 1981, "Government is not the solution, it's the problem." If you trace back the source of most problems -- social, legal and economic -- you will find the root cause is not poverty or corporate greed or individual misbehaviour, it's the basic urge that drives most government action: the desire to centrally plan fairness.”

See? I’m just like Orwell! I hate the big, nasty government too! Hopefuly your hatred for big government will obfuscate the fact that you are paying attention to big corporate media in reading this! My posts are so long that after reading them, you won’t have any time to stroll over to Smalldeadanimals! After significant market research, the marketers have told me that Ronald Reagan is the favorite president of right-wing bloggers the world over. I hope you like that I referred to him while casually failing to tell you that government spending skyrocketed under Reagan. As for central planning, well, We will talk later about how I selectively pick only the nicest and best emails rather than have you freely post your comments on my blog!

More Lorne:
“Government's can't keep their noses out of people's affairs. But since governments are also incapable of micromanaging all the details of our lives, all our preferences, all the nuances of our minds and decision-making, all the factors that go into each of our personal choices -- known and unknown -- then their attempts to do so are predestine to fail.”

Market research has dictated that most blogs contain spelling errors and poor syntax, so I purposely spelled “predestinined” as “predestine”. Just you try to accuse me of being on a journalistic high horse now, blogosphere! The Government is incapable of micromanaging your life, but hopefully you will be chortling hard enough to forget that I will micromanage my emails and only post the nicest and best comments. More on this later!


“Yet when governments fail, they react like South Seas cargo cults. During the age of Pacific exploration, when whites first made contact with island natives, the would leave behind goods the islanders had never seen. After the strange visitors had left and the natives had used up the goods, a cult would sometimes form around legends of how the foreigners could be persuaded to return with more cargo. Sacrifices would be made, and when, inevitably, those sacrifices would fail to provoke the visitors to reappear, new and bigger sacrifices would be made until all the islanders' livelihoods and possessions had been consumed in a fruitless pursuit of perfection and bliss.”

Market researchers have told me that many bloggers lament the lack of historical context in today’s MSM, so I will casually drop references without sourcing my information. I hope that a cult forms around my blog, for I am a legend in my own mind. You will have to make sacrifices in reading this absurdly long post, as you will not have enough time in the day to visit your blogroll, but both you and I know that would be a fruitless pursuit of perfection and bliss.


“Modern governments are like that. When they fail, rather than accepting that their myriad programs and regulations will never conjure an ideal world, they redouble their spending and intrusions on the theory that the only reason their schemes flopped the first time was lack of resources or insufficient meddling. More money and more micromanagement is bound to succeed.”

See? It’s the government’s fault that the MSM is failing to deliver the goods to their readers in the pursuit of profits. Rather than accepting an ideal world where the press is free, the MSM has doubled their spending in firing up so many blogs, but hopefully your anger at da gubbmint will draw your attention away from that fact! I get a dollar for every positive email that flows into my blog, so my micromanagement of your comments is sessential to this blog’s survival! But more on that later.


“Frankly, I'm a great believer in individual initiative, enlightened self-interest, the free exchange of goods and ideas and the price mechanism.”

After surfing the Amazon wishlists of Canadian bloggers, titles by Austrian Economists, Milton Friedman and Chicago School economists scored in the top ten. Then, after a thorough meta-analysis of the keywords found in this vast literature, several ideals of whimsy were devised to inspire you. Hopefully you are so caught up in Utopia that you fail to realize that even though I say I believe in the free exchange of ideas, I have no intention of actually doing it, because I believe in the price mechanism even more! I won’t post your comments because that would taint the public’s perception of me as an enlightened individual

“I lean toward conservative parties over liberal and socialist ones. I root for the Conservatives in Canada and the Republicans in the US, understanding that even they are far too enamoured of big government these days but accepting that even as bought-off as they are by taxing and spending they are seldom as bad as the alternative.”

The CanWest market research team has found a higher quality of writing on conservative blogs than on progressive/socialist ones, so I’d rather be linked to by conservatives. Hopefully my reference to big government will fill your eyes with so much rage, you’ll forget that I am actually trying to “buy off” blogosphere attention!


“If that's where you're at, too, I think you'll enjoy "As I please." If not, I hope this blog will provoke you.”


If you hate big government but love big media, then this blog is for you.

“There is no place here for you to post your views (it's called As I Please, after all), but if you want to send me e-mail, there is a link just below the tiny photo of me in the right-hand column next to the my most recent post. And I will respond in future posts to the best ones.”

This relates to my comment about big government micro-managing your life. I support the free exchange of ideas just as long as I am “free” to edit the ideas appearing on my blog! Only the best queries will be addressed, since this is a forum of one-way communication, sucker!