November 24, 2003

Boston Globe Google article, and blog peasants without cake

Dave Winer has a good account of being distorted in meaning for a Boston Globe article on Google. Derek Powazek concurs on extensive misportrayal ("Just for the record, I do not hate Google, nor am I its enemy."). But then Dave makes a comment which is an excellent example of something where the blog-hype is simply, thoroughly, wrong:

It's a new world ladies and gentlemen. In the old days, the BigPubs would put words in your mouth, and what could you do? Today each of us have a platform to tell our own story, so when they screw it up, we can run a correction, immediately.

When misquoted by any agenda-driven journalist, "we" have to suffer that asshole. Dave Winer, A-list, Harvard Berkman Fellow, President of Userland Software Inc, has a platform to tell his own story. J. Random Blogger would do better standing outside a subway station with a picket sign to tell their own story for themselves (ie., not counting attracting the support of some other journalist).

The numbers are stark. The Boston Globe circulation is "a daily circulation of 474,845 and a Sunday circulation of 704,926". Let's look at that number - 474,845. HALF A MILLION, roughly. Very, very, few bloggers have a readership which can oppose that.

This is simple mathematics. Note any calling me a name, "negative" or "cynical" or some such, does not change the numbers. On the one hand, HALF A MILLION readers. On the other hand, what, for the ordinary person, a handful of family, friends, and a few random fans?

In fact, I shouldn't write this post, from a strictly rational viewpoint. Because if I get slammed from a BigBlog, my ability to effectively reply is nil.

It's great that a few people can meaningfully take on journalists. It really is, good for them. But statements such as the above "new world" are downright cruel to peasants who do not have cake to eat.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather , journo | on November 24, 2003 10:12 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Dave Winer is full of it.

I've seen people doing the same thing fifteen years ago on Usenet.
Something else he said would be a wild optimistic prediction one year ago I'd been doing for a decade.

Somebody needs to get Winer away from the blogs and give him a good education in history of communications.

Posted by: Lis at November 25, 2003 09:46 AM

Take heart. How many of the Globe's half-million readers will actually READ any given story in the paper, especially if it (1) is not on the sports pages, (2) is not particularly local and (3) does not involve a violent crime?
OTOH, how many people will actually surf to your blog and NOT read what you've posted.
The numbers may be bad, but not all that bad.

Posted by: Bob at November 27, 2003 12:10 AM

Lis - Right you are. I was "there" too :-(. But being a bubble-blower means ignoring all the popped bubbles.

Bob - Of course not every reader reads every story. And one volunteer is worth ten conscripts. But a hundred conscripts? A thousand? There's a point where sheer numbers are simply overwhelming.
Moreover, the few dedicated readers are the ones least likely to be affected by a media misquote - it's reaching all the people who might be misled which is nigh-impossible.
Even with a blog :-(

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at November 30, 2003 07:15 PM