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It's a Spitball! It's a Filter!

BY Jed Miller | Tuesday, October 26 2004

E&P online edtor Jesse Oxfeld wrote a sensible analysis this week of a panel discussion called "Blog the Vote" sponsored by the Allentown Morning Call.

There's a real concern that blogs are taking away readers, damaging journalism, and -- this might be the scariest part -- providing instantaneous fact checking on whatever newspapers write. ... [but] contrary to some worries, blogs and newspapers aren't competitive media. In fact, they're entirely complementary.

Panelist Wonkette said bloggers "throw spitballs from the back of the class," while Kos said he considers himself "a media filter." And there you have it: That range reflects the transitional status of blogging.

My one complaint about Oxfeld's report is that it's too steeped in the drama of Old vs. New. It's a report about a tension, not an outright war, but I still think we need to shed the tug-of-war thinking altogether and see this moment for what it is: a transition.

Maybe I'm oversensitive after all the is-not/is-too-ism of the political season, but it seems to me that sober assessments like Jack Rosenthal's pinch-hit in NYT's public editor column serve much more purpose than stories like the recent NYT Magazine piece, which was squarely in the blogs-as-circus camp, for all its good points.

If bloggers and blog-watchers are going to promote the fact that collaborative media adds nuance and memory to the public discourse, we can't frame the argument in the oversimplified terms that are now the stock-and-trade of the decaying traditional media stronghold.

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