Meet The New Media, Same As The Old Media

I suppose it was inevitable. What I hope is just a plateau may be the start of an uncontrolled descent into “Crossfire” land. What am I talking about? The blaw-goe-sphere. Yesterday over at Music City Bloggers was a thread featuring the original commentary stylings of Mark Rose, and had something to do with the “Top 40 reasons he is a conservative.” Now, I recently wrote what I consider to be a heartfelt post about why “Liberalism” is sometimes difficult to live by. For that, I was blasted for feeling superior to everyone else because I was supposedly saying “I live like this, therefor I am better than you.” or something like that. I don’t want to rehash it all in this thread, but I bring it up for a reason.

The post by Mr. Rose was a compilation of Townhall campfire songs and petty attacks and there wasn’t a single original thought in the entire vomitation. (did you know there are over 1100 slang words and phrases for that act?). It wasn’t remotely accurate, it wasn’t remotely funny, it wasn’t even well written. So, I kinda wondered why it merited being placed in the MCB que in the first place.

I think its numbers. I think there has been a slight shift in the modus operandi ever since some nonsense written by Glenn Dean approached 200 comments. I mean, he did actually say something to the effect of “yeah, I know what I write can be controversial, but look at how many comments!” (Paraphrased, heavily.)

Last week, it was Roger Abramson’s “I don’t understand women” followed by “Help, me, oh internet, why do guys like to discuss girls?”. I’ve seen Roger’s work, and have been a fan for a long time, even though we are political opposites, but I thought he phoned that whole thing in. Roger, got mad love for ya, but it came off as a bit contrived.

I really think MCB has turned out to be a pretty good aggregator overall. I also know that it started out as a knee jerk replacement for NiT, but was also supposed to eventually make money. Unless I am missing something, the way to attract advertisers is with hit counts, or something similar. So I suppose there must be some appeal to the idea of not necessarily posting the best of local blog offerings that day, but instead highlighting those that show some promise of generating “discussion.” But it is the quality of that discussion that I take some issue with. Like the endless talking head shows on television, it seems any real exchange of thoughts is too often buried beneath the din of partisan rantings, and that every thread will ultimately devolve into the same collection of self described Liberals and Conservatives slinging cleverly disguised insults at each other.

Just wait till January. The start of the Primary season will usher in 11 months worth of political noise. If it ain’t about the elections, it ain’t happenin. Now, I get that MCB is supposed to act as a sort of mirror that reflects the nashville blawg scene, and, being such, it should be a showcase for those bloggers that offer some insight on politics, whether its their opinion of one of the candidates, or perhaps just a commentary on the process itself. I’d really hate to see a year long blawg-goe-sphere equivalent of Tucker! Does anyone really think that Tucker Carlson has a show because he is among the best and the brightest? His show never, ever, ever offers anything fresh or even informative. He’ll ask a guest a question, and if the answer is too nuanced, or, frankly, not controversial enough, he’ll bring out his carefully crafted “c’mon, you don’t expect me…” schtick. Its tired, and its boring.

Anyway, my purpose here is not to bash MCB. Its pretty new, and it probably takes quite some time to iron out the wrinkles of a brand new internet venture. I know and like everyone there, and most of the contributors and staff have been to my home, so I consider them friends, even when we have hair pulling cat fights at times. My hope is that they read this in the spirit with which it is offered, from a loyal reader who cares about seeing their collective effort succeed. NiT and Pith in The Wind have been critiqued over the months and years, in fact, by some of those in charge at MCB, so it seems fair to see if they can withstand a little scrutiny.

I think I’d like to point my browser over there once in a while and not see the Recent Comments section over-run by the same three or four guys still lobbing the same old rhetorical grenades at each other on a week old thread. Perhaps thats just me. Maybe it is a tried and true business model that befits the day and age we live in. I’m kinda hoping not…

***Disclaimer*** I realize how much time and energy has been put into the MCB project, and that no one there has drawn a nickel’s worth of compensation. Even a web site like The Huffington Post, who I assume can and does pay pretty well, is frequently so shrill I can’t stay there very long.

I applaud the group’s commitment to the project and I wish them all due success.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Meet The New Media, Same As The Old Media

  1. I grudgingly find some truth to your assertions.

    There has been a tone shift over there in the last week or so. The shrillest wheels are getting the grease and are derailing the threads into junior high pissing contests that consistently devolve into “Abortion is Murder” or “Bush Is Evil” screeds.

  2. Ok, but Bush is evil, ya know…
    ;)

  3. I won’t disagree with you. While we try to keep the commenters from doing outright personal attacks on each other, it’s hard to convince people that shrill rhetoric doesn’t actually move the discussion and that posting 100 versions of the same sentiment in the comments isn’t really that valuable. There is clearly a handful of people who want to play “gotcha” instead of having an adult conversation, and they tend to dominate the discussion. There is also a commenting contingent that doesn’t quite get that number of comments does not equal quality or interest of discussion. Not sure how we can effectively handle that, since we don’t want to ban people from commenting altogether.

    Of course, we appreciate your recognition that we’re trying, and welcome any suggestions. :)

  4. Rachel, i wish I knew. Maybe closing thread comments after a while, or when the discussion has moved away from the original intent, and shows no sign of progress. hard to determine, but I assume that is the Editor’s call.

  5. democommie

    Mack:

    You’re correct of course, butknowing that doesn’t make me any less prone to sin in future. For so long as there are people arguing for the divine right of kings (even those who have not been annointed by anyone but themselves) some of us just gotta rail.

  6. nm

    All true, Mack, except that I would give Roger a pass on the first of the two posts you mention. I thought he was really trying to get a discussion (not a fight or even an argument; a discussion) going on a topic a little removed from MCB’s usual.

  7. Lately, both Kat and I have been having issues with not having a heck of a lot of time to spend on the site, so part of the posting issues you’re mentioning are not so much “trying to drive drama”, but more like “lazy posting”. At least in my case. I grab things that catch my attention and are things I can write at least a sentence or two about. Often, it is the partisan stuff, because for some reason, it’s easier to write about.

    I dunno, lately I’ve been struggling to write. And that’s what, for my part, is part of the problem.

    As far as comments gone wild, I’m not entirely sure why that’s been going on so much, other then the fact that I think a lot of posts are fairly inflammatory *and* there are people out there who are irritated because we’ve deleted their comments. I just want people to act like grown-assed adults on the site and not call each other names and attack each other. Kat and I have to look at that shit every single day of our lives and it becomes toxic after awhile. We’re trying to keep the vitriol down and for some reason, it’s not working.

    Anyone with any suggestions are, of course, welcome.

  8. What Rachel said…

  9. By the way, we have something in the queue on this. Thanks for bringing it up.

  10. Demo, I’m a sinner too at times. I guess i don’t have the stamina I used to have, or the patience. I just worry about the overall effect on the site.

    Ivy, all that was bound to happen, life is increasingly complicated and stressful, and maybe the comments are a reflection of the current human condition. I’m glad you just stated what the problems are, and you guys have many fans that understand that you guys are all volunteers right now. Ups and downs are to be expected.

    NM, I know Roger wasn’t aiming for vitriol, I just thought the post in question was contrived to elicit an online gender divided comment war. I didn’t think for a minute it was mean-spirited.

  11. nm

    Well, frankly, aiming for discussion that isn’t mean spirited is an improvement over much of the posting going on there, which seems designed* to elicit precisely that kind of “yes!” “no!” “yes, you idiot” “who’s the idiot, you idiot?” kind of non-communication I hate.

    *I’m not saying that the design is deliberate, or even conscious, but the results do not lie.

  12. Pingback: Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » MCB, Same As, Well, The Internet

  13. I think I’d like to point my browser over there once in a while and not see the Recent Comments section over-run by the same three or four guys still lobbing the same old rhetorical grenades at each other on a week old thread.

    Me too.

  14. Roger Abramson

    Well, I never even saw Glen Dean’s post before I did my little men/women posts. Didn’t even know anything about it.

    My intent was not at all to start some kind of gender war or get a lot of pointless comments; in fact, I kind of made it an explicit point that everyone should avoid that sort of thing.

    I posted about those things because I truly though they were interesting topics to discuss. And I found people’s responses to those things interesting. I found it interesting, for instance, that you (Mack) were one of the prime defenders of the masculine rite of pointing out attractive women to other men, given your generally lefty tendencies. NOTE: I didn’t say it was necessarily incompatible with those tendencies, just interesting. Even more interesting is the fact that that’s not the first time you’ve taken a very stident traditionally “masculine” point of view on something (I remember you getting bent out of shape when I half-jokingly suggested that men should be allowed to carry handbags or purses around–would make it a lot easier to carry our junk with us). You are, in fact, much more traditionally masculine than a lot of male conservative bloggers.

    Which is interesting. Not bad. Not good. Not anything, really, other than interesting. Sometimes I just post things because I think they’d be fun for people to talk about. You learn a lot about people doing that, and people paying attention to what the others are saying can also learn a lot.

    I guess the main thing I’m taking issue with is the idea that I was trying to “start something” with my posts for pointless traffic. I’m not much on pointless anything, so I’m going to have to plead Not Guilty on that count.

  15. Roger, fair enough. I also wish to make clear that I didn’t think what you did was wrong, just that I came away feeling like you were fishing for comments for comments sake. You do not strike me as someone who would lie about things, so i owe you an apology, which i would gladly give you in person if i wasn’t way too manly for that sort of thing. :)

  16. Sorry, I just got back from my meeting…

    Believe me, I’m pretty much in total agreement. Much of what Mack, Ivy and Rachel have all said would be what I myself would say.

    As the Editor I do have to admit that I’m slightly discouraged. We have 42 contributing authors, but only a few exercise that role with any frequency. When we started the site it was my hope that the breadth of contributers (in style, tone and worldviews) would equal a nice potpourri of posts which WOULDN’T devolve into this current state of affairs.

    It seems it hasn’t turned out that way.

    Today I was at the Williamson County Gifted Students Writing Seminar, and many of those kids have just started blogs or are getting into blogging.

    I’m going to be featuring their work (and the work of other younger bloggers like Supermousey) on a more frequent basis. This is for two reasons: 1. they are new voices which would like some exposure and 2. I’m hoping that new blood will envigorate the conversation and move it away from the constant rote conversataional war we’ve had over the past two weeks.

    I’m also open to any other suggestions anyone has.

    Quite frankly, this has never been about page views or hit counts for me. I do pay attention to those–especially page views, but honestly, they can’t always translate.

    We had more than 4K page views last Friday. So what? Those 4K pageviews were like 5 people coming back over and over again.

    We’re scaring off a larger audience. I know that because I get the emails saying “I won’t come back anymore because of X/Y/Z commenter.”

    It frustrates me.

  17. Roger Abramson

    Mack –

    No problem at all. I can see why it might have looked that way. Sometimes, though, I just ask question out of pure curiosity. The breast cancer thing, for instance, grew out of a breakfast table conversation I had had that morning.

    Part of it is also that I don’t like to write about politics all of the time. Sometimes I just like to change the pace.

    Someday we need to have an arm-wrestling contest. For amusement purposes only. :)

  18. Roger Abramson

    Really? Someone won’t come back to a blog because of a commenter? I find that hard to believe. Not that someone would say that so much as that someone would really do it. It’s like saying you won’t read a newspaper because of the letters to the editor.

  19. Yeah, I see what you’re saying but I admit that I have days where I myself am like “God, don’t make me go to MCB…I can’t put up with XX’s crap today.”

  20. Someday we need to have an arm-wrestling contest. For amusement purposes only.

    Ok. All I ask is that I am able to watch. Please, I beg you both. I’ll try not to hyperventilate. I promise.
    ;)

  21. Wait, I thought XX was 20? You mean IX, right?

  22. Pingback: If I Had One Last Wish… « GingerSnaps

  23. nm

    Oooh, is that arm wrestling going to be before or after Mack’s nude wrestling match? I am so there. I am also really appreciating Sar today.

  24. Ginger, I would have thought mud wrestling would be more appropriate.

  25. YES…mud wrestling, indeed! Roger brought up the arm wrestling, so hey…I’ll take what I can get!

    Please refer to B’s post to Brittney from yesterday for more information on the effects thoughts like these have on a woman my age! ;)

  26. Roger Abramson

    It is quite explicit in my contract that I do not do mud wrestling. While it’s true that in the very early days when I was just a lonely kid from the Midwest without even two nickels to rub together trying to break into the business, I did some things that I’m not proud of (available on YouTube), I have finally made it to a point in my career where I don’t have to do those things anymore.

  27. *Ginger scurrying to YouTube to research “Roger Abramson: The Lost Tapes”*

    Where the hell is Mack?

    hee!

  28. Ha, leave it to Roger to have the same life story as Abraham Lincoln!

  29. Roger Abramson

    Aunt B., dammit, that’s the way we had to do it back then! It wasn’t like today, with your Hampton Inns and whatnot. It was one bed per room and people traveling together had to share! That’s the way it was.

  30. Mack – I stuck my head into blog-land the other day and just had to leave. Sickening. Your post, and Rachel’s today, are totally on point.

    MCB is a good idea. I wish that our contributors would all try to contribute more and soften some of the imbalance.

    As for me, Roger’s post stuck exactly the right chord at the right time. More, please.

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