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‘written by fools to be read by imbeciles’

Joseph Rago: Not a cheerleader for the blogs.

The piece is pocked all o’er with typographical errors, though. Mr. Rago repeatedly uses the word “blog” when what he really means is “blogs, excepting the indispensable Dartblog.com.” The Wall Street Journal’s I.T. folks ought to get on that.

Of course, I must put on record that Mr. Rago’s undertaking — that blogs are largely useless and of surprisingly low quality — is true but hardly fair. Take one hundred streetwalkers and hand each of them the helm of a seperate but equal Journal and what you’d get is probably one good conservative newspaper, one good liberal, a small crowd of aping acolytes, and a swarm of apathetics. Just like the blogs. Blogs demand a bit of self-editing on the part of the consumer. They can provide commentary and data of pristine quality, but one needs to filter one’s intake. For those with a deep hunger for news, this added cost is worthwhile.

And there are blogs that create positive value. This humble page, for example. Several thousand people would not have been able to witness Duke English Professor Houston Baker’s hysterical memorandum of March 29, decrying “drunken white male privilege loosed among us.” And the unique role that politically activist professors have played in stoking the Duke rape case would not be quite so well known. This is a minor thing, yes. (Though not for the three men awaiting trial.) But it is original value creation nonetheless. Certainly blogs produce nothing like the mainstream media in data gathering and reportage. But who has claimed they aim to replace that function of major newspapers and wire services? (Silly people — that’s who.) Blogs’ crusade against the ‘mainstream media’ has to do with skewed angles and partisan agenda setting. And do you know what? Blogs do a good job combating those things. Or at least documenting them.

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