Caught a bit of ATC on NPR yesterday -- specifically, a short filler segment about how a frequent commenter on the Atlantic was eventually hired as a writer. Listening to NPR News now and then the last ten years or so often makes me really angry. [In fact, I even commiserate with like minded others about the sorry state of NPR.] But this story was something else! It is just dripping with elitist disdain for everything we are doing here at Big Orange...
The hostility begins immediately, in the first of two sentences ATC host Audie Cornish utters to throw the segment to the reporter in the field.
Daily blogs attract lots of comments from the general public. They're usually anonymous and often inane.Often, but not always. Sometimes they have tens of thousands of readers, hundreds of thousands of hits per day and are way more popular than traditional news and commentary.
We are to understand the commenter was actually a real writer, you see. He was just pretending to engage the other commenters as an equal. Lurking around there, he was somewhat surprised at what he found!
His comments sections were actually worth reading. Comments sections are the cesspools of the Internet. They're the fetid sinks into which we throw the things that we'd rather not acknowledge we produce.Well now! I'm sure I speak for most of us here when I say I love stirring up shit! But there has to be some greater purpose, doesn't there? It's not like we could ever be happy making inroads with a younger generation; influencing elections and changing the conversation of politics and governance in the country. What we're each really hoping to do is get hired as a writer for a magazine with one fifth of its former circulation! An august journal with sewer rats for readers. An outfit that wouldn't even have a web site, let alone online comments if they could possibly help it in 2012.
Commenting can be cathartic, particularly if you enter into it without the expectation that anyone will ever read or respond to it.Oh, brother. I guess I shy away from the philosophy and the meta, for the most part. Obviously, we're about ten steps ahead of this guy already. I have a feeling he may never catch up.
The comments sections here are where the work gets done! Sure, it's a needle in a haystack. And it takes a special kind of discipline to interact successfully. But, come on! The chance to converse with some of the greatest, most passionate activists and political thinkers of our time. Great writing on environment, socio-economics, politics and all kinds of other topics. The best and most engaging writers are here -- not at the Atlantic, not at NPR, not at MSNBC. Sorry, but it is true. I am sorry not everyone yet understands how this site works and can see the forest and the trees.
It's really just a matter of proper sifting. You will not find neat little soundbites, conveniently packaged. There's a healthy amount of self-depreciation here at DK ["I know not to read it if it's on the wreck list"], but it's also remarkably stable and self-policing. So I'm not sure what's happening over at the Atlantic with the rats and moat monsters -- but I suspect the comments section is handled with benign neglect, with occasional exceptions like the one NPR and the Atlantic staff are clumsily trying to parse.
Why do they need to keep drawing the line -- carefully explaining the difference between bloggers and journalists, writers and commenters?
Coates knew he had a talented writer on his hands. So he began talking to the editorial director of The Atlantic, Bob Cohn. They discussed ways to bring Cynic out of the shadows.I actually sort of like listening to certain MSM pundits. Rachel, Lawrence O'Donnell, Cenk, and lots of others certainly have their heroic and/or entertaining moments. But I also like to hear Jesse LaGreca, the Yes Men, Mike Malloy... for a dose of pop culture I might look at Dangerous Minds instead of, say, Rolling Stone.
This is the time to completely flatten the pyramid. The ideas and imagery will capture the affection of the public, regardless of point of origin.