Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Is Blogging Therapy or Journalism (Revisited)?

June 27th, 2007 · 5 Comments

City Room Hamill

We’ve been reading and linking to the new City Room blog from the New York Times, and have been reading the Brooklyn stories it’s picking up with interest. Yesterday, Patrick LaForge revisited remarks made on the Brian Lehrer show by Pete Hamill, in which the columnist and writer called blogs “useful therapy,” but not journalism. Having had a touch of experience in the print world over the years and a whole bunch of blog postings over the last 14 months, we were happy to voice a different opinion on Mr. Lehrer’s show. Needless to say, Mr. LaForge also disagrees with Mr. Hamill’s opinion about blogging.

It is, quite frankly, a subject that deserves some examination. On Sunday, when some bloggers got together at the “Brooklyn Blogade Roadshow” at Vox Pop on Cortelyou Road, we noted that bloggers are having a tremendous impact on the flow of information about important local issues and that there are signs the coverage is beginning to influence the outcome of some issues. (Last night in Coney Island developer Joe Sitt mentioned “the blogs” several times in his remarks about his controversial project and noted that “to some degree” support from blogs would be important.) Blogs have become nothing less than the very foundation of the new architecture of information, which can be seen in dozens of stories that make their way into the print media every week from blogs (often ascribed generically to “blogs” rather than to the specific blogs that break and report the stories, if credit is given at all, but that is a different topic and story).

Not to sound overly dramatic, but it’s a little quaint to call blogging “therapy,” when what the medium is doing is nothing short of standing journalism on its head and, in the process, fundamentally changing the nature of the information that reaches people. As blogs continue to develop, blogging will democratize the entire reporting business.

Related Post:
What GL Said on BL About Blogging, Pete Hamill, Etc.

Tags: Brooklyn Blogs

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anonymous // Jun 27, 2007 at 7:10 am

    May I throw a random vote for journalism? When I couldn’t make the Joe Sitt meeting last night, this is the place I came for the best (read most honest, forthright, and least censored) information. -N

  • 2 who walk in brooklyn // Jun 27, 2007 at 8:36 am

    word to the wise, dude– while i support you against Hammill, don’t make the same mistake of arrogance he has. you have as far to go in one direction (the streets) as he does the other (and he was NEVER the best, repeat: NEVER) & if you ** are ** occasionally influencing the The Real Estate Times or others well…

    ask yourself how much some chump there’s getting PAID for your work (+ benefits + vacation + free shit etc etc). maybe you have a serious patron & can just give it away? i highly doubt that’s the case, so that leaves you where?

    volunteer stringer for dildos who STILL don’t get it. also, remember, ALL blogs go out to but a fraction of the people, & because that fraction is the one that responds, you all give it yet MORE attn. i mean, really, open up the map, both a Brooklyn one & a city atlas… this is “revolution”? it seems like redundancy as much as anything. (so many white people with money were shut of media cacophony before, right.)

    Q1: how many bloggers have worked at a newspaper or magazine, or know people who do today?

    ya’ll are giving yourselves waaaaaaaay too much credit, & to what end exactly?

    A LOT less self-approbation, A LOT more legwork & then you’ll start to earn the respect you’re a little too eager just to CLAIM. if the Cortelyou Road coffee klatch was ** serious ** what you’d do is start giving each other ASSIGNMENTS.

    Q2: how much do you know about the history of community papers, both in Brooklyn & the city?

    the technology– which is democratic in theory, NOT practice– has changed but not the impetus.

    Q3: who blogs like peak-Breslin? like Tom Robbins? like Chris Smith of New York in his best form? like Jim Dwyer? like the late J.A. Lobbia?


  • 3 Lawrence // Jun 27, 2007 at 9:01 am

    How ’bout “kareoke journalism”, where you have a lot of dreck out there but also some incredible, original talent?

  • 4 who walk in brooklyn // Jun 27, 2007 at 11:20 am

    “incredible” seems a bit much Lawrence for a craft defined that’s mostly by DRIVE but i understand what yr saying. i’m curious– bc i might have missed something– what do you think are the best blogs in the biz today?

    if i had a newspaper, would i ASSIGN Robert to do some work for me? (& also ask “what’s up on the streets?”) sure, what the hell (no kill fee, hah), tho’ i’d suggest he avoid glibness & look at ** everything. ** if his interest is finally, for the most part, JUST real estate, & whitey real estate at that… then we’d likely have some problems.

    the great irony that’s being missed in this discussion is that, for all of the freedom the bloggers have… what are they doing with it? (#1 answer: putting up mediocre photographs.) while the inclusionary impulse is laudable wrt to NEIGHBORHOODS physically, there’s way more to the game than ** just ** (the visible part) of real estate.

    if you want to say blogs are “fun” or a “virtual kiosk”/coffeeshop, okay, that’s true for some. they are also, in many cases, the edge of incipient blandness, homogeneity & hyper-gentrification. i.e. i’m new here but, uh… not alone, tho’ demographically the #s are way against us… eeek! (see the hideous Kensington blog for a sad example of this.)

    are there a lot of “real” reporters who are hot shit? no, but there are SOME & they are more hamstrung by editors than their own limits. set a dude like Andy Newman of the Times free & … whlle i FULLY understand the blogs have limited resources, i suggest Robert acknowledge that and THEN give credit when & IF it is due for story x, legwork y, inspired column z.

    meanwhile: what is Brooklyn– even our beloved Gowanus– really like & what do you read about here? i’m talking about people, all of them. do i need to go to ANOTHER blog to note ANOTHER bistro, or will that be covered elsewhere, inc. Time Out, New York, NYT, etc etc ad nauseum. (not to mention how many of those place hire PR outfits to hype them.)

    the very BEST reporters get over being themselves quickly & thrive on empathy, a quality that, w/a few exceptions, is sorely– SORELY– lacking among ** MOST ** blogs.

    that doesn’t take away from the good things Guskind does in the field or, say, Norm Oder’s close reading of the insanity that is Atlantic Yards, but let’s view these achivements in the context of the whole, or at least be honest & admit, well…the whole isn’t really our interest.

    Not that any single person can do it all but instead of dropping such praise on bloggers as a whole, Robert should be mocking Hammill (still!) AND challenging the bloggers to step up their games for real– let’s show these lazy, arrogant fucks how it’s REALLY done.

    that, my friend, would be, if not the revolution, at least a REVIVAL of the best Brooklyn spirit, & i ain’t talking mere brownstone revival either.


  • 5 Anonymous // Jun 29, 2007 at 12:36 am

    if blogs are “therapy” then i am well on my way to my personal healing as i learn about the issues

    so: thank you blogs for aiding my psychotherapeutic process and making me smarter at the same time i get well-er and btw thanks for being FREE!

    (therapy and meds sure can be pricey these days)

    blogs have changed the world of journalism forever because of their immediacy, their flexibility, their interactivity and more..they are kind of like a visual telephone with a party line that has a lot of memory…i.e. they are fascinating and fun as well as informative

    the printed paper is something you “look at” like say, in the subway, but blogs are something you “do”!

    technology has always changed and will continue to change the way we access information, communicate, express ourselves, and for the most part that’s a damn good thing for democracy

    lifer on the blogger therapy couch