On Mouth Foot and Disease

May 4th, 2007 · 4 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

Of course literary bloggers argue that they do provide a multiplicity of voices. But some authors distrust those voices. Mr. [Richard] Ford, who has never looked at a literary blog, said he wanted the judgment and filter that he believed a newspaper book editor could provide. “Newspapers, by having institutional backing, have a responsible relationship not only to their publisher but to their readership,” Mr. Ford said, “in a way that some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute maybe doesn’t.”

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4 responses so far ↓

  • David Queenann // May 6, 2007 at 8:36 am

    I find the notion that newspapers, or any media outlet, are responsible touching. There is nothing inherently unique about the relationship a print-media critic has with his readers that an online critic does not have. Both have to build and maintain a relationship with their readership based on quality and trust, and both succeed or fail based on that relationship. In fact, institutional media outlets have failed their readership both in terms of consistent quality and trust in the infotainment and twenty-four hour content age repeatedly. The list of highly respected publications with institutional backing that have been caught lying like dogs, or engaging in unethical spin, includes the New York Times, New Republic, CNN, BBC ad infinitum. There’s a reason some blogs have become influential. A critic presents an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. The reader looks for critics they tend to share tastes and opinions with. How does that require institutional backing?

  • Jan Whitaker // May 9, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Well, admittedly I have a quaint fondness for newspapers, imperfect as they are. But it’s true as RF says that although a blogger can build a reputation, etc., there are too many blogs that are churned out by relatively anonymous beings who can vanish, slip into the night, if things get hot. Can there really be any doubt that a long-term institution monitored daily by the public, with thousands of professional employees who are used to investigating and questioning facts, and with a big money stake in accuracy, fairness, etc., — i.e., a newspaper — is forced to meet a higher standard?

  • Jody Scott // May 9, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Nobody is allowed to say this–so here goes: book reviewing is dead because books today are bo-o-oring, chosen for blandness. “Let’s not offend anybody, it’s so much safer to bore them to death.”
    So what do you expect? Publishers: stop opting for safety and start taking big chances like you did back in the thirties and forties! We need something wonderful to read for a change–even at the risk of netting a few pieces of “outrage mail” from the lily-livered.

  • SusanGable // May 10, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Amen, Jody.