Bloggers Smirk at NYT Piece on Bloggers

The paper's praise for "gossip" bloggers is a bit backhanded

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This week, The New York Times profiles "nine emerging gossip bloggers," the "rising stars" of digital journalism. Times writer Alex Williams starts out by talking about the Twitter war last week between Henry Blodget and Felix Salmon over the firing of a writer for Business Insider. He points out that
the news ... did not break in a gossip column like The New York Post's Page Six or in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, which in a previous era might have owned this story. Rather, the scoop came from a 25-year-old Village Voice gossip blogger and University of Utah dropout named Foster Kamer.
If the highlighted age and "dropout" detail sound condescending to you, you're not alone. On the whole, the blogosphere has greeted the piece skeptically, questioning the use of the label "gossip blogger" for those like Dealbreaker's Bess Levin, who covers business. While not all of those profiled are complaining, the general mood is one somewhere between amusement and irritation. This is not, most conclude, the piece that's going to make The Gray Lady look hip.
  • Quick Linking Primer for the New York Times  Foster Kamer, one of the bloggers mentioned in the piece, welcomes Times readers to The Village Voice and then, "because the Times doesn't necessarily know how to work the linky-doodle machines quite as well as we might like them to," provides the missing links to all of the blog's posts mentioned in the Times article. He also tweets, mocking both the Times piece and the reaction to it: "Bigger Cliche: NYT Styles Fortnightly Blogger Piece, or Slagging Of NYT Styles Fortnightly Blogger Piece? Choices! #TheyAreYours"
  • 'Gossip Bloggers'--Right  Gawker's Adrian Chen recounts his mother's call to see if he was jealous, not having been included in the piece (no). In his tongue-in-cheek response, he makes a few serious points. Among them: "Nobody calls us 'gossip bloggers' except the New York Times, like they need to point out that we're basically over-sharey college students writ large." He shrewdly points out that "even the article says, 'the lines between "reporter" and "blogger," "gossip" and "news" have blurred almost beyond distinction.'"
  • Expect Bloggers to Make Their Own Lists Like This  Jason Boog and Matt Van Hoven at Mediabistro--mentioned in the story--don't seem particularly upset about the piece. Van Hoven does note, though, that the New York Times "top nine" type of list could quite fairly have been populated purely with folks from Gawker.
  • I Told You So?  The Awl's Choire Sicha posts a screenshot of an e-mail he exchanged with a New York Times staffer (presumably the one or one of the ones working on the piece) back in early March. "I would first encourage you to not do such a piece as defined here!" he begins. Among his concerns was one of the ones Chen and others mention: "What are we saying is 'gossip' now?" Then, too, he continues: "who is a 'rising star' because they've been hired on as a wage slave at a multimillion dollar blogging empire and who is a 'rising star' because of some other reason?"
  • 'Institutionalized Disdain'  Chris Rovzar at New York Magazine finds the piece condescending from start to finish. One example: "writer Alex Williams ... takes care to pair the bloggers' biggest scoops with their biggest gaffes, making it look as though they come at a one-to-one ratio." He argues this piece just goes to show "the paper simply still does not know what to make of blogs, even though it has many on its own site." He, too, takes issue with the "gossip blog" label, arguing the word "gossip" reveals plenty about how the Times actually views the publications. His sly opening sentence sums up his reaction pretty well:
The Times very generously takes the time today to look at a group of people who are mostly far too young and inexperienced for them to have hired, but who are still somehow nonetheless reaching large audiences with their writing and reporting.
  • Check Your Spelling  The Nytpicker, in a classic catch, points out that Times writer Alex Williams calls Gawker editor Maureen O'Connor's misspelling of the word "chryon" a "memorable gaffe"--while managing, himself, to misspell the word "misspelled" with a single s.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.