But the attacks on the blogosphere are nonetheless flawed in a very fundamental way. The criticism is often premised on the idea that bloggers are somehow offering something dramatically different from what commentators like Klein are serving up. But it's not really different. What Klein, like other commentators, delivers to readers (the column that appears in the hard copy of Time magazine notwithstanding) is words on a screen, and of course whatever sensibility, wit, analysis, and interpretive intelligence he brings to those words.And Amen to this:
Now, all of a sudden, anyone can come along and, with little to no overhead, offer pretty much exactly the same thing. Aside from some obvious differences -- bloggers sometimes double as political activists, and the idiom is different in some ways -- the truth is that bloggers essentially offer exactly what Klein does: Words on a screen which are meant to help the reader interpret current affairs and politics. What’s more -- and here’s the real crux of the matter -- readers are choosing between the words on a screen offered by Klein and other commentators and the words on a screen offered by bloggers on the basis of one thing alone: The quality of the work.
Before, Joe Klein and his colleagues enjoyed an exclusive perch, one that was maintained for them by the folks who controlled the systems that, previously, were the only ways commentary and news were disseminated. One could argue that columnists earn their perches -- through hard work, experience and, occasionally, talent. But once they attain their position, their status is more or less protected -- both by the fact that news orgs rarely fire columnists and by the kind of de facto gentleman’s agreement that has long kept columnists from attacking each other too aggressively.
The blogosphere has shattered that comfy arrangement -- permanently.
Suddenly underperforming columnists, and their editors, are no longer insulated from competition -- from bloggers who, as hard as this may be for established commentators to accept, actually do work that’s as good or better than they do. I'd put up Josh Marshall, Kevin Drum, Digby, Billmon and others up against many mainstream columnists in America any day. Atrios ...As Steve Soto said the other day:
Do Your Jobs And Stop Whining, you have some competition now and competition is good.