A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Now, With a Fanfare of Trumpets, Let's Welcome Open Source Media!

The following is from The Anchoress, who has been chosen as one of the blogging movers and shakers over at the new Open Source Media. This is the new name of Pajamas Media, the consortium formed to send out blogging hit squads against "liberal media bias" and "distortion of the truth" after the CBS Bush National Guard Memo scandal. Roger L. Simon was the co-founder with Charles Johnson. They have managed to capitalize to the tune of $3.5 million with the intention of becoming a full-blown independent media outlet.

The Anchoress has this to say about her new media connection:

I think Alexandra’s graphic is a brilliant masterpiece! and on top of all that, she also has the best notes on the launch I have yet read. Head over there - it’s really great!They must be doing something right, they’ve managed to awaken the easily-roused ire of the elegantly fussy and disdainful James Wolcott, who could be predicted to hate it. He hates everything that is not a reflection of his own bilious, superior sort of queenly cynicism.

Well, with a logo like that how could one not take it seriously? I certainly do, and I did some extensive reading on the new site.

Let’s quote Mr. Simon, the CEO:

Our most important goal is openness via the free and respectful exchange of ideas expressed through citizen journalists, coupled with a dedication to honesty and the truth…Citizen journalism at its best means the pursuit of the truth above all things, above partisanship or the financial interests of the medium publishing it.

So far, so good, but very little yet about news [you know, that stuff you write when you are actually where something important is happening and describing what is going on]. I don’t doubt that OSM intends to be full of ideas and hot in pursuit of truth.

But, so far, the content appears to be mostly an extended linkfest, with lots of empty newshole, where ideas [presumably] are linked to, but hardly expressed.

Ideas are difficult and take time to formulate, even when they are bad ideas, and the hot pursuit of truth can generally be conducted only when you think you have flushed out a lying fox. Perhaps even one with a capital letter.

This doesn’t happen every day, so there will be some effort needed to fill that newshole with interesting things to bridge the gap. I suspect this will be the achillies heel of the venture. Nothing burns out writers faster than having to write, on demand, about nothing in particular.

So let’s turn to the financial interests:

The investor group is led by Aubrey Chernick, angel investor and technology entrepreneur

I think I’ll very much enjoy looking into Mr. Chernick and the other angels in whom he invests, or perhaps the other angels with whom he hangs out, and just who else they dispense their angelic largesse to.

But the future is bright, as Mr. Simon points out:

Securing this first round of venture backing validates the Pajamas Media business model…

Which brings us to the meat and potatoes: What are they going to sell and how are they going to do it? Advertising, it seems, since they have an ad manager ensconsced on the 7th Floor of Rockefeller Center.

He’d better get to work and sell some ads. They only have $3.5 million in venture capital and that doesn’t go very far when you have an office in that high-rent district.

And there had better be some ideas in place about how to deal with Major Problem #2 of all media outlets: how to generate enough entertaining and readable content to keep the money rolling in when the advertising is constantly poaching on the news hole. Problem #1 is filling the news hole in the first place, as I have suggested above.

So finally we can turn to that “above the fray of partisanship” business. We can already get a glimpse of how this will operate:

Austin Bay writes about “Big Lies”… Liberal Marc Cooper weighs in on yesterday’s House Iraq debate, while conservative Atlas Shrugs issues a warning to the Republicans… JustOneMinute has his eye on the continuing brouhaha around the Fitzgerald/Plame investigation. Who told Woodward anyway?… Daniel Drezner is looking at new US approaches to Iran and … Michelle Malkin is back from her book tour and blogging… Taking a break from politics? Click next below for Harry Potter info.

One of the advantages of being above partisanship is that you can see far enough ahead to warn your readers when one of the six bloggers whom you cite and link to is “liberal”.

Of course the liberal blogger post cited merely reinforces the “raving moonbat” stereotype, (so dear to the hearts of my conservative friends) hair standing on end, boldface type shouting all over the place, and invective strewn to all quarters.

Actually, Marc Cooper is a pretty decent writer when he has some sensible editors to reel him in. On his sidebar is a link to an excellent piece in LA Weekly, “Sour Grapes”, on California farmworkers forty years after Ceasar Chavez. But I doubt I’ll see it cited or quoted on OSM.

Without editorial direction, Cooper is another Hunter Thompson wannabe, without Hunter’s wide and delicate verbal color palatte.

Of course, I don’t expect serious and thoughtful progressive bloggers, like Chris Bowers over at MyDD, to be cited by OSM at all. After all, the readers would not only have to be warned that he is “liberal”, but also that he is “reasonable and intelligent”.

But the logo is pretty, the site is pretty, and I just hope the ads don’t ruin it. Though I also hope Mr. Simon and his fellow bloggers like the Anchoress get the ads to keep it going, and that it gets better.

UPDATE: I had a chance to look up Mr. Simon’s “angel investor”, Aubrey Chernik. If large wings make an angel, Mr. Chernik certainly qualifies–on the order of $705 million. He has also taken OSM very thoroughly under his large wing, apparently providing them space for editorial offices in the same building which houses Mr. Chernik’s own company, NC4.

The company, by the way, deals in “crisis management readiness” and, with its partners, has been a large for-profit beneficiary of our “homeland security” transformation under the Bush Administration.

Now, of course, I am perfectly certain that, in the same way that OSM is “above partisanship” it is also “above financial interests”, which is why they can be so conveniently down the hall from their corporate angel with it doing no harm.

After all, OSM and NC4, Chernik and Simon, are not only on the side of the angels, they also live in the City of the Angels.

And you can’t get more angelic than that.

[h/t Martini Republic]


Blogger Alexandra said...

"...so dear to the hearts of my conservative friends–hair standing on end, boldface type shouting all over the place, and invective strewn to all quarters."

Jo, you say the nicest things....

9:14 AM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

My apologies, Alexandra. Writing in English is always an invitation to slip on the banana peel of unintended meaning and ambiguity.

What I should have done was put the phrase "so dear to the heart of my conservative friends" in parenthesis () to clearly differentiate it as a parenthetical remark and make it perfectly plain that the hair standing on end, the boldface type, and the invective were Mr. Cooper's and not OSM's.

I'll go back and fix it. And thanks for stopping by.

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