On Reading Widely

by Conor Friedersdorf

Rob Long is an enormously entertaining writer whose provocations I've enjoyed a lot lately. I've got to disagree, however, with this post, titled "All You Need to Read Is..."

The payoff: "Instapundit, pretty much." I say that as a longtime Instapundit reader. "Glenn Reynolds is a terrific writer: eloquent, witty, pared down to the word," says Rob Long, and I agree. In the past, I've interviewed him, recommended his book, An Army of Davids, and enjoyed numerous of his articles. The problem is Rob's next statement: "If you get all of your news from his site, trust me: you're getting all the news."

In a way, this is a quibble. Mr. Long is being hyperbolic. He doesn't actually rely on Instapundit for all his news, he's just remarking on the impressive breadth of subjects that blog covers. Still, it's worth pointing out that the coverage is filtered through the worldview of Glenn Reynolds, and that as a result certain narratives are unlikely to be upset. It would be reasonably easy for a person to read Instapundit, click through to several links each day, and never have their "conservo-libertarian except for foreign policy" worldview challenged. Especially since there are more partisan zingers and one-liners aimed at rhetorical point-scoring than there used to be. Unless I am mistaken, it is not a blog that aspires to be a fair and balanced look at the world.

It is nevertheless a perfectly defensible enterprise, and one I continue to find worth scrolling through a couple times a week, despite what I regard as its shortcomings.  But it isn't a substitute for wide reading anymore than any other one man blog.

Conceding my bias on this matter, I think The Daily Dish does a much better job (than Instapundit and most every other blog) at prominently highlighting dissents, and I'd certainly never recommend that anyone get their news exclusively from this site. (For one thing, Instapundit has us beat on the actually very important disaster preparedness beat, among others.) A strength of the blogosphere is that readers can engage news and commentary through the lens of a personality they trust. Inescapably, you're also subject to the blind spots of your favorite bloggers.

Don't rely on any of us too exclusively.