Blogging Archives

October 2, 2003

Blogging for dollars?

Eugene Volokh has said that he isn't going to spend a lot of time blogging about Plamegate, because it doesn't fit his criteria for interesting blogging. Now some people are criticizing him for taking that stance.

Ed Cone thinks that Eugene has a responsibility to discuss the story:

A weblog is not a game of Solitaire. You engage your readers. You promise them certain things. Volokh and Insty have created themselves as important commentators on the serious issues of the day.

To ignore this story is to abdicate a role they are only too happy to play in other situations, which in turn devalues their credibility when they want to put the pundit's hat back on.


Of course, as Volokh says, nobody is paying them and they are free to write what they want.

But if they want to be taken seriously as a new kind of journalist , then they have to assume some of the responsibilities of journalists, too. Otherwise, it's just a hobby.

Eugene's primary defense, as Ed notes, is that he's not getting paid to do this, and can write about what he wants. That's true, and yet it's not really a complete rebuttal to Ed's complaint.

Even if Eugene were getting paid, he wouldn't have a responsibility to comment on the story. Eugene is not a newspaper (though the Volokh Conspiracy may have more contributors than some newspapers). If he were, the complaint might have some merit; one can certainly argue that newspapers implicitly promise that they'll provide all the relevant news of the day. (Or perhaps explicitly promise it: "All the news that's fit to print.") But one can't make that argument of columnists. Nobody would tell Thomas Friedman, "If you don't comment on global warming, you will lose all credibility and I will cease to pay attention to your discussions of Middle Eastern politics," would they? (Indeed, many would argue that Paul Krugman would gain credibility if he'd stick to his areas of expertise, instead of commenting on every issue of the day.) We read a columnist to find his take on what he finds interesting, and we take him seriously if he demonstrates that he knows what he's talking about.

Now, Ed is right when he says that as a blogger, "You promise them [your readers] certain things." But you don't promise them that you'll comment on every story. Punditry is not journalism. It's a different animal. As a blogger and as a pundit, you (implicitly) promise that what you do choose to write is accurate. If you hold yourself out as an expert in an area, your accuracy can be judged against a higher standard. But you certainly don't promise to discuss everything. Even if it's a job, and not "just a hobby." And that doesn't change even if you're prolific.

[Perhaps, in light of these criticisms, I should have an explicit promise to my readers: I promise to write about what I want to write about, when I want to write about it, when I have time to write about it, for as much as I choose to write about it. No more, no less. Now you can't say you weren't warned. However, for large sums of money, I'll post whatever you want me to. Heck, for large enough sums of money, I'll run naked through the streets of Baghdad.]

November 4, 2003

That was fast

Last week Donald Luskin idiotically threatened to sue Atrios for libel. Followup: Luskin surrenders:

A JOINT STATEMENT FROM DONALD LUSKIN AND ATRIOS We both regret a series of misunderstandings that have resulted in something that neither of us intended. We have discussed our differences, and both of us are confident that such misunderstandings will not occur again in the future. As a result, Mr. Luskin is retracting his demand letter of October 29, 2003. We congratulate each other on having quickly achieved an amicable resolution. We are both glad to have put this behind us.
(Same post on Atrios, by the way.) I guess someone realized how stupid he was being. And surprisingly (given the tone of Atrios's blog generally), that was a pretty gracious way to let Luskin off the hook.

February 7, 2005

If it's good enough for Andrew Sullivan...

So I see that the person who originally introduced me to the blogosphere (*), Andrew Sullivan, is taking a break from blogging. Wow. If a professional writer/political pundit can't keep it up, how can the rest of us ever hope to? So far the only ones who seem to keep going strong are the academics (and even then, most of the ones I read seem to be group bloggers).

As for me, as my reader has noticed, I haven't been blogging lately -- though I haven't formally given up. In the past, when I've blogged without pause, it's because I've made it a daily chore; I set aside a time to go hunting down for topics to blog about each day. That was relatively easy during the leadup to Iraqi Freedom and the election. But now, it requires a serious investment of time and effort, and I haven't decided whether that's worth it.

My other option is just to blog whenever a story strikes my fancy; the problem I have with that if I'm not making the effort to find the stories right away, eighteen other people have blogged about them before I've had time to find out about them. And while I do enjoy the sound of my voice, I don't think that I have something new to contribute by that point.

So I haven't yet decided what to do. Anybody who wants to offer me cash to blog (or, for that matter, not to blog), please let me know.

(*) It was Instapundit who inspired me to start blogging, but it was Andrew who introduced me to Instapundit.

February 22, 2005

Smart As The Dickens

Yeah, I have the same feelings that David and Andrew have. Maybe the answer is shorter posts? If so, here goes:

Steven Landsburg of Slate makes an observation about A Christmas Carol that probably differs from what your junior-high school English teacher taught:

Though Dickens might not have recognized it, the primary moral of A Christmas Carol is that there should be no limit on IRA contributions.

Nobody else seems to recognize this as a primary solution to our Social Security problem, either. The proposed private Social Security accounts sound to me pretty much exactly the same as current IRA and 401(k) plans (with the exception that they are compulsory). So why not save everyone lots of time and energy and simply eliminate limits on IRA and 401(k) contributions - and then just call them private Social Security accounts?

May 16, 2005

Won't have Paul Krugman to kick around anymore?

No, don't get your hopes up; he hasn't been fired. Rather, the New York Times has decided to hide him from the gentle criticism of the blogosphere. And it's not just him:

The New York Times announced today a new online offering called TimesSelect, which for a modest fee will provide exclusive access to Op-Ed and news columnists on, easy and in-depth access to The Times's online archives, early access to select articles on the site, as well as other exciting features.

While most of the news, features and multi-media on will remain free and available to users, the work of Op-Ed columnists and some of the best known voices from the news side of The Times and The International Herald Tribune (IHT) will be available only to TimesSelect subscribers beginning in September.

Hmm. Interesting. As I understand it -- and I'm certainly not an expert on web economics -- advertising dollars on the web are making a big comeback. And yet the Times chooses now to cut off some of its content?

Anyway, I wonder what this means for blogging. The first step in a trend of shutting down our raw material? Probably not. I doubt many media outlets, other than the Times, would be able to justify charging readers for web access. In fact, I'm not sure that the Times will be able to do it, either. I mean, I like bashing Krugman and wondering what the heck Maureen Dowd is babbling about as much as the next guy, but I surely can't justify spending $50/year to do it. (Not that I have to, exactly; as a print subscriber, I apparently will still get access. But it's difficult to blog about something you can't link to. I'm always annoyed when someone blogs a story in the Wall Street Journal, for instance.)

I wonder what the over/under is on how long the Times gives this experiment. A year? Then they realize that readers have noticed that Bob Herbert and Frank Rich don't give you anything you can't read in a million other newspapers, for free.

February 26, 2007

Not dead yet...

I know I've been gone for a very long time, but I wanted to announce that I'll be guest blogging over at Overlawyered this week.

March 5, 2007

Status update

I will be continuing to guest-blog over at

In addition, I am starting up a new blog with my friend and former colleague Ron Coleman, who formerly blogged at Dean's World. We will be blogging at Likelihood of (Yes, it's a law pun. We lawyers are funny that way.) So go check us out.

November 27, 2007

Hard drive crashes suck

The title pretty much says it all.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in the Blogging category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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