Back in November, a BBC interviewer asked me if blogging is “the new jazz”. I cannot tell you how hard my eyes rolled at that one.
When I related the exchange to Mike Sigal from Guidewire, the group that stages DEMO, his eyes widened. ”Actually,” he said, “the interviewer didn’t realise it, but his question could be interpreted to make sense.” Mike’s take was that, since bloggers riff off of one another, in a way the whole process of blogging is somewhat jazz-like. Well, okay.
Slate’s Josh Levin has taken an analogy that just about makes sense and managed to get it all wrong. No, I’m not referring to his mistaken belief that credential is a verb (c’mon, dude, didn’t a grasp of basic grammar come with those credentials of yours?). His claim that rappers and bloggers were “separated at birth” is, I guess, supposed to be a humorous take - or so the exclamation point in the subtitle indicates. Levin proclaims:
[I]n newspaper writing and rock music, the end goal is the appearance of originality—to make the product look seamless by hiding your many small thefts. For rappers and bloggers, each theft is worth celebrating, another loose item to slap onto the collage.
Levin maintains that citing sources in blog posts equals stealing. The logic that has led him to this conclusion can only be imagined, and it ain’t pretty. (Does he pride himself on never citing research or sources in his own work, or did I imagine all those links to, er, bloggers in his piece?) Still, he’s demonstrated adept use of another trick of the trade that makes “credentialed” journalists, as he’d refer to himself, so goshdarned special: Dressing up an incorrect argument as a humour piece, all the better to claim, “Hey, it was meant to be funny, don’t take this stuff so seriously!” when he gets laughed at for being wrong. As Peggy Noonan wrote recently (and Adriana blogged here even more recently):
When you hear name-calling like what we’ve been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don’t have a serious case of freedom envy.
Congratulations on your credentials, Levin. I hope they have served you well in an industry where you imagine that citing research and sources is tantamount to theft, because you won’t be getting by on them for much longer.