What blogs are good at…

And it’s not always breaking of news. Indeed that may be their least important function. Cato at Liberty with a critical analysis of the loudly trumpeted Stern Report, and in particular the forced manner of its launch. On the day recalls being asked by the press for worthy comment on what had been a heavily embargoed report, but he notes: “it’s hard to say anything intelligent about a 700+ page report that was released only hours earlier”.

…the experience demonstrates a fundamental problem with journalism that is unlikely to ever go away. To wit, reporters demand an immediate reaction when some new study or paper comes out, and the news cycle doesn’t last long enough to allow for particularly informed and/or careful review of many of these said studies or papers. By the time that informed and careful response is ready, reporters have moved on to something else. The deck is stacked in favor of the authors, who seldom have to defend against anything but superficial or relatively poorly-informed criticism in the popular press.

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  • In my experience of publishing research and acting as a press officer, the system mitigates against developing a good understanding of research.

    Either you give an exclusive [at the risk of pissing off the other journos] or you release in advance and risk someone breaking the embargo.

    Less prosaically though, can a newspaper be the right place to express the nuances involved in a scientific report or complex policy analysis? Certainly not unless the habits of newspaper readers alters . . .

  • Mick Fealty

    That kind of reflects what Cato is arguing: ie that it won’t change, because of the nature of the beast, and the journalist’s ever present daemon/friend the deadline.

    I do think it is instructive that the only parts of the mainstream press that are prospering across the board at the moment (Irish News and the Newsletter being honourable exceptions) are weekly mags, like the Spectator and New Statesmen and micro local weekly newspapers.

    Although they do influence the more discursive analyses, in the public mind the horse has often long bolted by then.

    The same embargoing game would never be entertained in the book publishing world, where it is recognised that complex narrative takes time to read, absorb and contextualise.

    Enter the blogosphere!

  • Butterknife

    Do not be surprised if job losses of no less than four thousand are called for in the NICS!