Mainstream Media Hating On Bloggers, Part 3,467 in an Ongoing Series
Watching the mainstream media hate on bloggers is becoming something of a sport, but if I were the betting type I wouldn't put my money on old school, print media.
LA Times critic Richard Schickel is the latest to jump on the bandwagon. I like the Schickel's writing. I think he's a smart guy, and I respect his criticism. But he seems lost about the direction the publishing industry is heading.
Schickel is absolutely right that ideally criticism is an act "undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object)." There are plenty of blogs around that do nothing but showcase the obnoxius ramblings of idiots. But officially sanctioned cultural gatekeepers (i.e. professional critics), are often no better at raising the intellectual level of cultural discourse. Look at all the hacks and quote whores out there.
And often times, they're blinded by their position of authority. The work of Jim Thompson, one of the best American writers EVER, was largely ignored during his lifetime by critics, probably because his chronically dissolute, scheming, lower-class characters weren't considered suitable subjects for "serious art." But his books, usually sold as cheap dimestore fare, were consumed at a steady rate by American readers. I like to think is he were alive today and ignored by the mainstream media, his work would find vocal champions among the Internet crowd.
Besides, setting up blogging in opposition to traditional journalism/criticism is pointless. Not only does it make bad business sense (if the bigwigs at the LA Times and every other paper in this country don't already know that, they're about to get schooled, and quite painfully), it makes bad cultural sense. Instead of fostering a more open, inclusive discussion about culture, one that more people can participate in, the guards of old media cling onto the scraps of their eroding power.
They ought to look closer at what they're holding onto. The tighter you squeeze a fistful of sand, the quicker it slips through your fingers.