Ed. note - I usually don't like blogging about blogging, but the person who really wanted to write this is, qu'est que c'est, a little too involved. I was also privy to some confidential info, none of which makes the final version of this post and only served as background material. What I'm trying to say here is, bloggers are all retarded, even more so when you get more than one of them together in a room.
The best pissing matches often start with something innocuous. Not that there wasn't already animosity
between the participants, but in this case, it began with a lighthearted jab from Choire Sicha
on Friday, December 23rd, 2005.
I submit that the oxymoron of 2005 is "Gothamist reports."
(Narrates? Recites? Chronicles? Tells? Relates? Conveys? Imparts? Transmits? Sure!)
Choire is right, of course. "Report" is an often misused terms in blogs, something I'm guilty of sometime. Very few blogs actually provide firsthand, or even secondhand accounts of news. Summarizing and commenting on news articles, which Gothamist does more or less, does not constitute reporting.
During the transit strike, Gothamist simply re-told information acquired from other sources (and I should add, they did a pretty damn good job throughout the ordeal). For the most part, blogs like Gothamist simply provide information available at other outlets in a convenient, digestible format. Hooray for that.
Fast forward two weeks to January 7, Garth Johnson, sorry, Gothamist
puts up a reader email about contrails from airplanes
, and adds this defiant throwaway line:
So, there, we've reported something.
Clearly evidence that
Gothamist can take a joke. Or can't. I'm not sure. Nothing wrong with a playful back-and-forth between blogs though.
But wait, not-Garth-but-Gothamist didn't report anything. Not-Garth-but-Gothamist simply copied and pasted a (wacky, uneducated) reader email and didn't even try to respond to the question posed. Someone had to notice this, and sure enough, Brian Van steps in
No, that's still not "reporting". More like, "relaying".
Gothamist is a blog, anyway. No one expects most blogs to do reporting, except if a reporter runs it for the purpose of journalism. Otherwise, it's assumed by all that you, like all the other blogs, are just talking about things you've heard from the media.
And that's fine. Blogs don't have to engage in journalism for content to be entertaining or respectable. It's silly to claim to be journalists when you're not, and you don't need to be. It feeds the trolls. Ignore journalism - just be happy and successful bloggers!
Reasonable enough, right? I like Gothamist, you like Gothamist, we all like Gothamist for what it is, a central information source for most things New York. We don't care that Gothamist doesn't do any real reporting, just like my past girlfriends didn't care that I didn't squeeze out $100 bills everytime I shit. And Brian Van is certainly okay with Gothamist, it seems.
But this gets ugly when Jake responds
and to brian van: fuck that. we report all the time. we generate at least two or three stories a week that get picked up by the main stream media, and every day we add detail and information to stories that are already being reported by the MSM. don't assume that blogs can't report, and don't assume that gothamist is merely a meta-site. if that's all we did, we wouldn't be as widely read as we are.
talking about stuff that we heard from the media? that's what you think bloggers do? that's idiotic-- and if it didn't violate our comment policy, i'd go as far as to suggest the person who made the comment was an idiot.
A few points here:
- Brian didn't say blogs don't or can't report. Just that no one expects them to.
- Adding "detail and information to stories that are already being reported" by the media is, as some people might put it, "talking about stuff that we heard from the media".
- And yes, that's what bloggers do, mostly.
- Jake, I think you just called Brian an idiot.
And it continues, spanning four days. I'll spare you (most of) the rest but you can read the whole flame war in its entirety here
The exchange goes on to touch other subjects, most notably:
- Has Brian Van ever contributed to Gothamist?
Yes, Brian has written for Gothamist (the two disagree on who made the initial contact) but without Jake's approval and he hasn't written since, Jake adds, "because of his opinions about Gothamist, and because his behavior freaks out some of our staff". Oof.
- Does Gothamist pay its writers?
Yes and no. It started paying its top six writers last year, and it will pay all its writers beginning later this month - which Jake hadn't told the writers before the comment meltdown.
Oh, Jake. Why do you do this to yourself? Why do you continue to use Gothamist for personal pissing matches
? Just concede that you weren't using "report" in the strictest sense of the term. There's no need to defend your site's honor when not one bad word is said about it (as opposed to, say, "'welcome to two months ago' posts, atrocious proofreading and often incoherent writing" - all true, insulting nonetheless). Surely you didn't need to paint Brian as some psycho blogstalker to defend Gothamist, especially when a polite "Brian was not a good fit for us" would have sufficed?
And the pay issue - we can give Jake the benefit of the doubt here, I guess. But if Heather wrote, "All [decentcontent] writers are paid, with health and 401K" (we are not, believe it or not), I'd be pretty fucking pissed. True or not, "we meant to pay you once we had enough money" and expecting the news to "trickle out" sounds awfully disingenuous when it comes only after being confronted by comments and emails from writers.
But oh, what do I care? While I have nothing against Jake or Brian personally - in fact, they both seem to be pretty nice in person - there just aren't too many things more entertaining than a good old fashioned pissing match where participants reduce themselves to acting like snotty 14-year-olds.
I'm scoring this round 10-9 in favor of Jake. Both had their moments and neither was able to throw a real knockout punch. Jake gave the more punishing blows while Brian defended well. Close fight, but you have to reward the more aggressive fighter - Jake was willing to go places Brian wasn't.Update: "New American Hero"
? I like this. I need to put it on a business card.tags: blogs bloggers gothamist Jake Dobkin brian van