Kathleen Parker is not impressed with the blogosphere
. In a recent op-ed piece she penned, published online at Town Hall
, she laments that "...There's something frankly creepy about the explosion we now call the Blogosphere - the big-bang "electroniverse" where recently wired squatters set up new camps each day...
" and that bloggers are "...effete and often clever baby "bloggies" rich in time and toys, but bereft of adult supervision. Spoiled and undisciplined, they have grabbed the mike and seized the stage, a privilege granted not by years in the trenches, but by virtue of a three-pronged plug,
[ a computer] and the miracle of...
" instant posting programs. She goes so far as to posit the thought that bloggers are more dangerous than AlQaida and Osama Ben Laden combined.
She is, however, pretty impressed with herself
. This is too bad, for her self-admiration apparently blinds her from thinking clearly about where she stands, herself, in the world of journalism.
Her forte, after all, is not investigative
journalism, wherein one researches a story and digs for all the sordid details. Rather, she's an opinion
columnist, and what else are blogs but vessels of opinions.
Being an opinion writer does not require that you be informed. It makes the quality of the writing's content better, but knowledge isn't necessary. Being a syndicated
opinion writer requires you be able to turn a phrase well, but, again, it doesn't require being informed on the things you opine about. Since I didn't know that much about her expertise, and since I like to find out the details on a subject, I relied upon her own bio pages. This is what I found.
On her own promo pages, Ms. Parker takes pains to let you know she can turn a phrase well. She makes note of the fact that, in 1993, she was the recipient of H L Mencken Award, "...defeating 102 professional contestants...
" to attain this.
While this might be impressive to some, I greet it with some skepticism. It isn't lost on me that Mencken "...prided himself on being a man of print. He didn't think much of having his things syndicated.
" In addition, Mencken's writing was a staple for me while taking collge journalism classes. But I remember less of what he said, and more of the fact that he was an articulate cynic whose prose was heavily seasoned with sarcasm. Given this, I have to wonder the criteria for being recognized for her work as an opinion columnist. I expect the standard would differ than an award for investigative work. Finally, that j-school
class [and a subsequent three year tenure in a small chain of newspapers] allowed me to be equally cynical about the value of awards in general. For there are plenty of good, even excellent, writers out there who never get awarded simply because the do not bother applying for the accolade in question.
Then there's Ms. Parker's stated credentials, those "...years in the trenches...
she so nobly intoned about. Her bio notes that she is "...is director of the School of Written Expression at the Buckley School of Public Speaking and Persuasion in Camden, South Carolina....
. Buckely School is hardly the Columbia School of Journalism
or S I Newhouse School of Public Communications
. The Buckley School's headquarters is in an expanded house [check the picture]; it was founded by none other than F. Reid Buckley
, younger brother of Conservative elder statesman William F. Buckley
and the faculty roster of 14 people plus "consulting" faculty that include no less than four other members of the renowned Buckley clan. While I'm not disputing the writng skills of the Buckley clan, reading the credentials of some of the other faculty
is, at times, almost laughable, until you realize that, if any of them follow Ms. Parker's example, they also take themselves quite seriously. Good thing, I suppose, for once their, um, "credentials" are known, would anyone else? I suspect not.
The motivation for starting the school was nothing less than watching Union Carbide executives squirm when asked tough questions by the media about their role in the Bhopal toxic gas leak disaster
in India that killed 3,000 people. The principal purpose of the school was to conduct "...workshops to teach executives how to express themselves with poise under duress...
." "Alumni" from Buckley School include a PR flak for Philip Morris, an former Army Intelligence officer who also served time with management consulting frim McKinsey & Company
as well as a "Nationally Known Home Style & Entertaining Guru
Perhaps the coup de grace in Ms. Parker's supposed credentials as some high-principled expert are the outlets that seek her for speaking engagements, which include the following television programs: The O’Reilly Factor, Court TV, Greta Van Susteran’s The Point, and she regularly joins other journalists on Chris Matthews’ Sunday roundtable.
There's something to be said for truth in advertising. Sadly, in my book, Ms. Parker flunks this test. Though I do agree with her on the point that if you are expressing your opinion, that identfy yourself. She does at l east do that.
Say what she may about her objections to the unsavory rabble that run about in blogland. She's no different really....and, I suspect, is actually only objecting to "lefty" bloggers like Orincus
, Steve Gilliard
, Peter Kurth
or Scott Bidstrup
. She might be more comfortable with Andrew Sullivan
[except that he's a queer and she purports to be so pro-family], Gerard Van Der Leun
, the Roseville Conservative
or even Matt Drudge
From my point of view, it is not enough to be opinionated and sharp-tounged. You have to be able to provide facts and data to make the opinion have any weight ...or credibility. I'm not certain that Ms. parker has the latter ...with approximatly 350 papers in syndication she may very likely have the "weight". But Ms. Parker ought to heed that advices that says: "
I'll close this rant protesting Ms. Parker's santimonious drivel by quoting D J Drummond, who writes the weblog Stolen Thunder
. He says in response to her column "...You know what I find “creepy”? That someone like you would be teaching future journalists. Watch and see, madam. Blogging is neither going away, nor is it ignored. Within ten years, you will start to see major journalism schools take it up as a necessary skill. Within five you will see a blog report segment on the major news networks, at least the ones which can keep their viewers. It’s simple really, just supply and demand – as long as you refuse to supply real news, people will demand it from us....