Liveblogging a panel at South by Southwest 2005 (; ); 2005.03.14 14:04

Above all, the most important news

I took the elevator up with Ana Marie Cox and you didn’t.

Evan Smith, editor, Texas Monthly, hosts. She pronounces it “Ahna.” Age 32; married to an editor of some kind; a Texan.

“Even then I had an ear for the slightly-off catchphrase: ‘Loving Beer and Loving Horses.’ ”

Who picked the word “Wonkette”? Originally they were going to go for Guckert.com. “Immediately I dismissed it; it was too gender-specific…. Being the blogosphere we just don’t think past the immediate future…. Gay men have done well on Wonkette, so maybe that’s how we’ll solve the gender problem.” Denton (her unnamed “boss”) did, however, love it.

Without the mainstream media, “bloggers would have no facts [to blog] except for what they could Google,” which isn’t everything. Do bloggers actually give a damn if the New York Times reports what they say on their Web site? “I think they do,” but there are rather a lot of them. Some bloggers use the medium “as a résumé-builder.” Many are “just as sort of sealed off from the little people beneath them.”

Aren’t more people now getting their news from people who “say stuff than journalists who check facts”? “It’s a really cheap way to create narrative drama. You can blame bloggers for this, but I think cable news is just as bad – not just Fox, but I think Fox is trailblazing in that direction.” Journalism used to be about creating drama through narrative and storytelling; “that’s expensive… and it’s easier to create drama just through yelling.”

There’s no cost to entry. “And thank God. There’s not much to say about it except: Welcome, everyone…. People have to become more critical in their consumption of media.” Why should people get their news from the mainstream media? “Blogs… are upfront about where they’re coming from and their opinions. There’s a kind of rigidly-enforced sourcing in a way,” in that you have to link to the sources you’re citing, “and I think those kinds of things are missed by mainstream media.”

Are bloggers any more accurate, per capita per post, than the mainstream media? “Well, what are they posting about?… There are very few blogs out there claiming to do original reporting, so there’s not much for them to get wrong.” For a story about chiefs of staff, she Google Image–searched every chief of staff she could and speculated which ones would have to pay for sex.

She now commutes between D.C. and New York, which does indeed take a toll on one’s marriage. “I have a wonderful Apple 12″ PowerBook that I pretty much take with me everywhere…. Alarm goes off at 7:00, and I literally can usually just roll over and pick up my laptop” and look at the morning papers. Her contract specifies 12 posts a day. (“Twelve!” Dunstan Orchard exclaims under his breath beside me.) “That’s how Gawker makes money.”

“I probably don’t do enough stuff that would get me into trouble.”

“I do kind of have a general policy of not outing people, especially gay conservatives, because I figure gay Republicans have it bad enough.” Why worsen their “private hell”?

“I did get her fired, but I also got her a $300,000 book deal, which is more than I got.”

Are bloggers journalists? Journalism encompasses many fields. “If we’re going to include Maureen Dowd as a journalist, then why not bloggers?” (Or any “opinion journalist,” a concept she doesn’t understand.) “You’re a journalist and you have a blog or you don’t have a blog,” as Josh Marshall did and does.

CNN immediately described Jeff Gannon as a blogger “because he got stuff wrong.” CNN equated the two, apparently. “You can have a blog. it doesn’t cancel out being a journalist.”

“Most people aren’t that interesting on the first draft, aren’t that funny on the first draft. You really have to work it over a bit…. The ones that are good are the ones that care about the writing they’re doing,” and readers think that too.

Her book Dog Days will be about August in D.C., and will take place in a world that actually has blogs.

Question: Does your site help or hurt democracy? “Oh, gosh. Well, democracy or America? I think it’s good for America, bad for democracy – I think it’s good for me, bad for America, bad for— No…. I’m something of a cyberlibertarian… more information is better…. I’d rather [too much information] existed and have people filter it rather than the government.”

“That’s my take on Jeff Gannon: I think there should be more assfucking in the White House, not less.”

Question: Is a definition of journalism like Dan Gillmor’s – someone who finds out stuff and tells it is a journalist – valid to you? Yes, essentially. “The definition of ‘journalist’ is always in flux’ because the media are always in flux. Journalism is a non-credentialed profession.

Gannon: It’s a pretend briefing anyway, so why not have pretend reporters?

Question: What advice would you give to TMFTML or a young blogger? “Wow, the responsibility. I can’t advise following in my own shoes; there have been far too many missteps…. But remain true to your feelings and your beliefs, and talk about assfucking a lot.”

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.03.14 15:55. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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