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August 10, 2002

Pamphlets? Are you insane? Normally

Pamphlets? Are you insane?

Normally I'd expect to see this linked over at Glenn's place, or perhaps Bill's. They must be enjoying the weekend. The NYT compares bloggers to pamphleteers. Bloggers are right-wing and have websites. Pamphleteers are left-wing and don't.

The war on terrorism may be giving new life to the old-fashioned pamphlet as well. This winter, "9-11," a stinging indictment of American foreign policy packed into a 125-page, pocket-size pamphlet by the M.I.T. linguist Noam Chomsky, became a best seller in five countries, setting a new sales record for the Open Media pamphlet series published by Seven Stories Press. Begun during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 by a pair of Rutgers University graduates hawking Xeroxed copies of an antiwar tract on New York City street corners, the Open Media pamphlets now appear as glossy bound little books on hot-button topics — terrorism, the Middle East, civil liberties — by scholars like the radical historian Howard Zinn.

Blogging can be like a conversation. Pamphlets are lectures. Noam Chomsky writes pamphlets because Noam Chomsky isn't interested in your views or your comments, because Noam Chomsky is omniscient. The most enlightened among us can drink from the fountain of distilled wisdom that is his pamphlet. The NYT writes about him because the NYT likes being America's paper of record, and the rise of pamphleteering doesn't threaten that position. Blogging does, until you find someway to dismiss it.

"We wanted to explore a serious issue using a novel medium, " said Paul Grabowicz, director of new media programming at the school and a co- teacher of the course. "When you have journalists sitting down to write a weblog, what happens to objectivity? Obviously, a weblog is far more interactive. It starts to mix journalists and their sources together. Then you have those people responding to postings on weblogs: What do you do with those?"

The implication here is that bloggers aren't objective, and that is a bad thing. Horror of horrors! I find it hard to believe that anyone nowadays still holds the belief that the media is objective. Certainly the NYT is not, and I say that as a person who reads the majority of it, at least on the web, every day. Here's a surprise for Mr. Raines, I don't want or care for objective reporting. I want honest reporting. Ernie Pyle was an honest reporter. Edward R. Murrow was an honest reporter. You know who I bet considers themselves objective reporters? Damn near every member of every local news team anywhere in the US, which is why local news is dying. Objective reporting, truly objective reporting, is very rare, and boring as hell.

The vast majority of bloggers are not only honest, but intellectually honest. We learn from our mistakes. In story after story, from the civilian casualties in Afghanistan to the "melting" of Alaska, the NYT demonstrates that it does not learn from its mistakes, nor does it care to. Its fiction of "objectivity" is the garish mask of make-up you find on the face of an elderly whore, one who insists she's still a virgin. I feel like a Soviet citizen, parsing the stories in Pravda to determine the truth.

And finally, pamphlet's? What is up with that? Are these people congenitally stupid? A pamphet is going to reach, at max, a few hundred people a day.

Noam Chomsky, meet Jack T. Chick. He's as looney toons as you are, but at least he has the sense to put up a website as well as printing out his little screeds. He reaches thousands more people that way, you idiot. In the contest between your ideas and Mr. Chick's, he's winning. The idea that you think some sort of Xerox'ed zine is the best way to communicate your ideas is the best argument against them. If you had any sense, any goddamn sense at all in that woolly head of yours, you'd have a website. The fact that you get trotted out as a member of the "left" by the media is the single best argument I can think of against the idea that the media is left wing.

Now that I think about it, the fact that you don't put your ideas on the web is a strong argument that you don't care enough about them to present them well. My god, you must be cynical, to keep flogging the same tired crap even after you've discovered you don't believe it yourself.

Update: Turns out we've been compared to pamphleteers before. Thanks to Andrea for the heads-up

Posted by Bigwig at August 10, 2002 01:58 PM | TrackBack
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I agree NYTimes is not objective.
They assume the corporate as a given, being one.
Unlike the founders of the US who actually feared
corporations as much as the king.
And the NYTimes is hyper patriotic, never calling
any administration, Dumb/or/Repug on the war
crimes they commit year after year.
Remeber, that constitution the gov't is supposed
to adhere to? It states, in quite clear language,
surely much more clear than other things debated,
that the US must adhere to all treaties it signs.
They become the law of the land, i.e. equivalent
to a constitutional amendment. There is nothing
about getting out of treaties. But it would be pretty
safe to assume that, if not written out in the treaty
itself, like a couple recent ones
(maybe the anti ICBM treaty. God, nukes are dumb),
that to get out of a treaty
the gov't must do the same it did to get into one
- that is via senate voting on such.

Posted by: Super Cow at September 13, 2005 01:21 AM

What? Where'e my post? So much for comments.

Posted by: Super Cow at September 13, 2005 01:35 AM
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