Sunday, July 17, 2005

From Zenger to Atrios

The Washington Post Magazine's article on the Barbara O'Brien and Betsy Newmark Washington bus tour is a great read (and very long), although it seems to have been written by at least three different people, not just the singular David Von Drehle.

Look at these cute little blogger creatures! the first person exclaims. Aren't they just the silliest and the funniest? It's so entertaining to watch Barbara O'Brien's medial and lateral pterygoids tighten like the lid on a Mason jar, and to observe her eyes dart up, down, right, and left. Betsy Newmark appears to be more in control of her facial muscles -- perhaps an indication of Von Drehle's political leanings.

The second person descends into a gloomy dirge on newspaper journalists' fears of being put out of work by bloggers.

The third person writes respectfully and seriously about how and why O'Brien and Newmark started their blogs and provides interesting details on the logistical differences in their approaches to blogging (Barbara analyzes a particular issue or event in one long article-like post, interspersing quoted material with her own commentary; and Newmark writes shorter pieces with quotes and links to other bloggers and writers). We learn something about Newmark's and O'Brien's personal history, and what motivated them to begin blogging. Then we are taken on a trip through the history of written argument in America -- from John Peter Zenger and the Federalist Papers to the growth of newspaper empires that bore the imprint of their famous owners' politics and personalities on every page.

In the end, we come back to Barbara O'Brien and Betsy Newmark, two women of similar age and background whose political beliefs and values are as different as they can be, and who exemplify the vigor and energy of the blogosphere, and of the American style of debate in general.

The culture of argument may not be ideal, but it's ours, and it beats certain alternatives. The roisterous, partisan, often mean-spirited world of the political blogs is not threatening America; for better and for worse, this is America.

Amen to that.

1 comment:

alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!