I have a lot of (okay, some) respect for Warren Kinsella, the political advisor/blogger/aging punk rocker who writes an op-ed column for the National Post. He speaks his mind, and sticks to his principles, and I admire the fact that his band is called Shit From Hell. But I have to say that his latest op-ed piece — about the rise of blogs versus Old Media — is kind of lame.
In his piece, Warren argues that the bid by Thomson for Reuters (along with Rupert Murdoch’s takeover offer for Dow Jones) discredits one of the latest theories about the media — namely, the theory that “the much-trumpeted New Media (to wit, the Internet and its bastard children, such as Web logs and the banned-at-Queen’s-Park Facebook) are about to supplant the Old Media.” Gather round, kids — this is what we call a “Straw Man” argument, in which a columnist creates a facile position (allegedly held by his opponents), which he then proceeds to dismantle with the greatest of ease.
Warren goes on to say that “the buzz about the New Media juggernaut has been, perhaps, a tad overdone,” and that “rumours of the traditional, mainstream media’s demise are somewhat exaggerated.” He also says that “most of the commentary that takes place online depends entirely upon the efforts of Old Media” (a phenomenon I am no doubt contributing to with this post).
We’ve heard this particular song before — bloggers just parrot or comment on what appears in the press, therefore they are parasites, etc. As Nick Carr has noted, however, not all parasites are bad. In any case, the part that bugged me about Warren’s piece was that no one I can think of (no one with a lick of sense, at any rate) has ever argued that blogs and Internet media will *replace* everything we associate with Old Media.
Enhance and extend, yes. Comment on, critique, yes (something columnists do as well, I might add). Expand, add to, help to illuminate, in some cases fact-check, certainly. But replace? Hardly. In other words, it’s easy to dismantle that particular argument, because it’s absurd.