I got my first paper back in my ENG101 class today. The only comment given by my teacher was, “superb,” and I got a 3.9/4.0, or 95/100 — it would have been perfect, except that I forgot to include a ‘memo of self-reflection’ wherein I “analyze and evaluate the effectiveness/growth of [my] own work.” Oops. Still, I think I can cope with the final grade.
The paper was an argument analysis; the article I chose to work with was A Blogger is Just a Writer with a Cooler Name.
Here’s the paper…
January 23, 2006
Over the past few years, the already fast-paced world of news reporting has had to adjust and adapt to a new form of rapid-fire journalism in the form of weblogs (generally short-form writing, often updated multiple times each day). While some organizations have started experimenting with ways to incorporate weblogs into their online sites, many of the most influential and well-known webloggers are unaffiliated with any major news organization, reporting on their own personal sites or through independent websites. This has led to a perceived breach between the “old guard” of traditional news service reporters and the up-and-coming “new media” webloggers — a breach that Simon Dumenco, in his AdAge column “A Blogger is Just a Writer With a Cooler Name” (Dumenco), argues should not exist.
Dumenco begins with an account of a conversation he’d had with “a 30-something newspaper editor” unhappy with the division between weblogs and traditional reporting. “There’s simply no good reason to segregate the functions,” claimed the news editor. Dumenco expands upon this idea, stating that not only should the division between the two not exist, but that, “there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.” He is arguing that the software used to write or to publish is secondary to the writing process itself.
Ethos is entirely missing from from Dumenco’s argument, leaving logos and pathos based statements to support his claim. This omission does not harm his case at all, as this is not a situation of ethical quandaries. The simple logical and (to a lesser extent) emotional points he raises are quite enough to form a solid basis for his column.
Dumenco begins by combining his arguments defending his standpoint with the anticipated arguments from his opponents, using a pseudo-dialogue question-and-answer format. The majority of his responses are simple, logical rebuttals to the objections he expects from those defending the perceived need to keep weblogs separate from the “real” reporting. For each point, he immediately counters with his response: “OK, you might argue, blogging is aesthetically a different beast — it’s instantaneous media. (Well, since the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle, pretty much all media has had to learn how to be instantaneous.) It’s unpolished. (The best blogs I read are as sophisticated as anything old-school media publishes.)” This approach allows him to quickly and concisely counter any opposing arguments while continuing to establish his case.
His use of logos continues in paragraph seven, when he points out inconsistencies when an organization uses one employee in multiple roles. As an example, Dumenco cites the New York Times’ David Carr, who “is one thing (he’s a columnist!) when he’s doing his…business column and another thing (he’s a blogger!) when he’s doing his Oscar-season dispatches…even though both are edited by a Times editor before being published.”
He looks at the possible emotional reasons for the division in paragraph six, many of which boil down to idealism and elitism (coming from both sides of the divide). Bloggers “like the idea of being all alterna,” and see themselves as “superior to the musty, lumbering, out-of-touch traditional media.” Meanwhile, traditional media uses the ‘blogger’ terminology as “linguistic armor — labels…to convince themselves that they are the true professionals,” and concerning themselves with “the amateurs, the arrivistes,” would be beneath them.
Dumenco does qualify his suppositions for the source of the divide by recognizing that the very technology used for the websites may play a part. Many news organizations are using “[once] state-of-the-art, but now-cumbersome publishing technologies” from the ’90s, as opposed to more modern blogging software systems. However, he does not believe that the tools should define the genre. He humorously emphasizes this point when he points out that, “even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or a Wordder.”
The tone for the piece is kept fairly light, almost conversational. Dumenco’s column appears weekly on the website for Advertising Age Online, a media and marketing news and analysis magazine published both online and offline. Given the magazine’s focus, his primary audience is likely to be people in the marketing and advertising business; however, the implied secondary audience are those on the other side of the divide — the webloggers.
Dumenco’s position is likely to be fairly well received by certain people in both his primary and secondary audiences: younger (or more open-minded) “old-media” people who are more familiar with today’s technologies and the weblogging world, much like the “30-something newspaper editor” mentioned in his introduction; and more serious, journalism-centric webloggers eager to be accepted into the ranks of “serious” reporters. However, given that there are two large camps who are unlikely to be swayed, or perhaps even conscious of the debate — older, more traditional “old-media” writers; and the large segment of the weblogging world concerned less with journalism and reporting, and more with personal journaling or simple communication between family and friends — it is likely that this conversation will continue until a more sizable portion of the media world is made up of people raised and weaned on the Internet and its fast-paced, instantaneous information model. As Dumenco states in his closing statement, soon the only media types will be “those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those…[sic] who can’t.” It may well be that it is only the ever-increasing speed of modern reporting that finally lays the “journalist vs. weblogger” debate to rest.
Dumenco, Simon. “A Blogger is Just a Writer With a Cooler Name.” Advertising Age Online 17 Jan. 2006. “