Blogs vs. real journalism: I was thinking a bit more about Jonathan Rauch’s lament about the fading of the
buggy-whip industryprint journalism, in which he mocks bloggers, analogizes blogging to scribbling with spray paint on the side of a building, and writes that the blogosphere is “the single worst medium for sustained, and therefore grown-up, reading and writing and argumentation ever invented.”
Yup. Worse than talk radio. Worse than cave painting. Worse than smoke signals, rock ‘n’ roll lyrics, woodcuts, spray-paint graffiti, and every other medium of communication ever invented….
Rauch actually has an ironclad argument here. He’s claiming, in a blog, that blogging is crap. Therefore, if he fills his blog with unsupported exaggerations, that’s fine, as he’s demonstrating that blogging is… crap.
Not to pile on, but, hey, why not? I was curious what Rauch has blogged on lately, so I googled Jonathan Rauch blog and ended up at this site, which most recently (as of this writing) had this unsupported claim:
[In 1980, George H. W. Bush] would probably have lost to President Jimmy Carter had he won the nomination.
I don’t think so. More to the point, Steven Rosenstone didn’t think so in his classic 1983 book, Forecasting Presidential Elections. Bush was more moderate than Reagan and, as such, would have been expected to have done even better in 1980. In any case, I find it extremely implausible that Bush would’ve done so much worse as to actually lose the election.
If Rauch wants to make this claim, counter to all the political science I know, he can go for it, but it would be helpful if he would at least realize that he’s making an extremely strong claim in defiance of the literature. He could’ve found this out by getting on the phone and talking with a political scientist… but, hey, there’s no reason to check, right? It’s just a blog, after all…. It’s a scary day when mere bloggers such as Felix Salmon and Nate Silver garner more respect than credentialed credentialed journalists such as Rauch. Sure, Salmon and Silver work hard, think hard, write clearly, and stay close to the data—but they never worked their way up from the police beat on the daily paper, so should we really trust them???
Game, set, and match to Andrew Gelman.