Friday, December 12, 2003

The other day I began a post about the Prague TV thread that began with somebody slamming the Prague Post for not covering Scott Ritter's speech at the American Voices Abroad conference and then turned into a series of anonymous rants about how great it would be to start up a new English-language publication in Prague. (Pragueblog noticed this already.) Before I posted my little screed, I got up and went to do something sort of important, and when I came back, Blogger had eaten my entire post alive.

In hindsight there's not much to comment on. A few random things stood out for their mind-blowing stupidity, such as this:

Is the Post so afraid of losing its Texas funding that they'd play down such a remarkable story??
OK, yes, they definitely should have covered it. But Jesus, people, get a grip. Ooooo, it crawled outta Texas, it's gotta be baaaad.

Then there's...

The US Embassy, with which the Post has had agreements in the past about editorial content...
An agreement about content with the US Embassy? Hmm. I'd be interested in seeing the goods on that one. I'm no partisan of the Post, but if it's not true -- and it was posted anonymously, so we'll probably never know -- the statement is bordering on libelous.

And I get a mention, too. Another anonymous poster is speculating on who might write for the next English-language publication in Prague:

There are the Blogs. Ignore Macmillan and speed to the primary material. These Blogists are the raw material for any possible new publication. Would you hire them?
Interesting. The writer must be referring to my "Prague Webwatch" column, which consists solely of me filching stuff from other Praguebloggers. Lately this has mostly meant Doug Arellanes and Steve of Pragueblog. Maybe he didn't know I have a blog too, or maybe he considered it not worthy of mention -- no matter.

The point is... I love Doug and Steve and Bloopy and I think they're writing is great; ditto for most of the other Praguebloggers. One of the things that's so impressive about the blogosphere is that it's shown how so many non-writers (that is, non-professional writers) are so damn good at stringing sentence together. And I'd hire these guys in a second, provided somebody else signs the paycheck and Bloopy starts writing with a few capital letters here and there.

That said, somewhere in my heart of hearts I think it speaks badly of the world that anybody would considers these "primary sources." A blog, almost by definition, is a secondary source of information. That story about the nesting dolls on Old Town Square? That's about the closest this blog, or the vast majority of blogs for that matter, are ever going to get to original reporting or "primary source." A-list political bloggers like Josh Marshall and Mickey Kaus occasionally do a bit of reporting on their blogs and break some minor stories, but even then, it's not much.

I hate it when people blog about blogs, so I'm not going to touch that topic again. But needless to say, proper journalism to me means more than just stringing sentences together. It means doing tedious stuff like research and interviews and gathering more information than what your readers know already. (What? You mean I might have to pick up the phone to write this story?) Of course, it's also about putting your name next to the assertions you make, The Economist notwithstanding.

I think there are plenty of under-employed writers/journalists in Prague who understand this -- the question is if there are enough readers smart enough to recognize good muckraking when they see it. I'd also like to think a good publication could rise from the cold ashes of the Pill, much as a lot of the editorial side of Prague Business Journal came from Prognosis back in 1995. (Most people don't realize this, but many of the top staffers at Prognosis went on to become top staffers at the Prague and Budapest Business Journals. The irony here is pretty striking if you know that Lisa Frankenberg had quit Prognosis to go start a more "serious" newspaper called the Prague Post.)

Anyway, too much inside baseball.

Just one more thing.

Last night I met up for drinks with Micah Jayne, former editor/director of the defunct Pill. He and I and some friends went Christmas Party hopping. First Euro RSCG at Chez Marcel, then Slavia Capital and the Joshua Tree in Slovansky Dum, then the huge Stillking bash at Duplex.

The Stillking party was great (Duplex is a multi-story rooftop club on Wenceslas Square where Mick Jagger had his 60th), there was an open bar and we drank and danced and stayed until the wee hours and sang "Mamma Mia" by Abba at the top of our lungs. That's something one should be embarrassed about, I suppose, so I'm only putting it here just in case anybody saw or heard me and thinks that maybe I'm not embarassed about it. I really, truly am. (Micah had gone home by this point, just for the record.)

Anyway, I mentioned Micah only because I think he and Vincent Farnsworth, one of the organizers of the AVA conference, deserve some recognition for being the only people on that Prague TV thread with the cojones to use their real names.

Have a good weekend, and don't forget about the Amnesty party next Saturday.