Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Authenticity Alert: "Group Celebrity Blog"

g.c.b. digital art copyright 2005 by steven streight Posted by Hello

The LA Times recently ran an article about an "innovative" group celebrity blog start-up...but is it just a cheesy tactic by a sleazy media hack?

John C. Dvorak, in his Dvorak Uncensored blog, alerted me to this Arriana Huffington's supposed status as a "blogger". Comments posted by blog readers questioned why Dvorak was mocking her.

So I visited Arriana's alleged "blog", finding it a sub-domain type extension, which contained editorial articles, making it seem dangerously close to being a "Pseudo Blog", but I reserved judgment at this point.

What caught my eye, however, was her crazy reasoning. Stupid as hell.

She was, in a certain article, scolding the Democrats for not taking a stand in the Terry Schiavo case. She claimed that the Democrats should have argued loudly for the feeding tube to be removed.

Then she admitted this would be political suicide. Then, piling insanity on top of imbecility, she castigated the Republicans for taking a stand to save Terry Schiavo, saying it was obviously politically motivated, for expedience, and not true human compassion.

This is intelligent, credible, authentic blogging? I think not.

Let's look briefly at the LA Times article now...

Huffington to Launch Celebrity 'Blog'

The commentator has invited 300 friends and associates to post their opinions on a website.

By James Rainey, Times Staff Writer

Author, newspaper columnist, radio commentator, television fixture and onetime California gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington has never shrunk from new platforms for her opinions.

[STREIGHT: Hmmm...seems suspect already.]

Now she's on the verge of upping her exposure with another venture — and inviting 300 of her big-name friends and associates along for the party.

Huffington said she planned to open the Internet "group blog," the Huffington Post, next month. She said she wanted to create a dynamic salon for opinions that could "expand the dialogue to more than just one side of the political spectrum."

[STREIGHT: opinion chaos? inflammatory debate forum? fair and balanced reporting, with multiple viewpoints? ideological anarchy? Time will tell.]

Web journalists and commentators anticipating the planned May 9 launch said they were impressed with the stature of the participants Huffington signed on to write for the website (www.huffingtonpost.com) — including newsman Walter Cronkite, music mogul David Geffen, former Sen. Gary Hart, writer David Mamet, attorney Vernon E. Jordan Jr. and novelist Norman Mailer — but that it remained to be seen what form the unpaid contributions would take and what their frequency would be.

[STREIGHT: Will it be safe fluff...or real controversy? I suppose I'll have to drag my butt over there and give them a taste of real idiosyncratic, aggressive opinionation. heh.]

"It's creating a new environment that is not really like traditional blogging," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Is this a new kind of communication: a unique, elite blog-salon? Or is this just Arianna Huffington trying to find another career? We don't know yet."

[STREIGHT: I think we can already guess what the answer to this is.]

Huffington, 54, began supplementing her syndicated newspaper column about a year ago with a Web log, or blog. She said at the time that the form was "the greatest breakthrough in popular journalism since Tom Paine broke onto the scene," referring to the American Revolution-era writer.

In her proposed inaugural column, she calls the Huffington Post an "innovative group blog where some of this country's most creative minds will weigh in on topics great and small, political and cultural, important or just plain entertaining."

[STREIGHT: Wow. How revolutionary. It...it sounds like...like a...like a BLOG!]


Also contributing both content and financing are television producer-writer-actor Larry David and his wife, political activist Laurie David, along with several other financial backers.

[STREIGHT: While I love Seinfeld, I don't think Larry David is a leading light in philosophical debate, though I could be wrong.]

Huffington has not released a full list of contributors, but she said they included writer-producer Aaron Sorkin, talk-show host Michael Medved, Playboy Chief Executive Christie Hefner, and actors Harry Shearer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

[STREIGHT: Real brains here. I can't wait to hear what these geniuses have to say about euthanasia, war, genocide, hypnotic effects of films, Hollywood drug and prostitution scenes, violent video games and their effects on children, why Buddha is better than Harry Potter, how a two party system is vastly superior to multiple party systems, Jacques Derrida's impact on hypertext, and the interplanetary internet.]

Although Huffington and the bulk of the participants announced so far reside on the left side of the political spectrum, she has invited conservatives to submit pieces too. And she encourages postings that don't hew to any political line or that expose the authors' passions (cooking or hiking, for example) outside politics.

[STREIGHT: Starting to sound like a bizarre mix of Jerry Springer, Oprah, Politically Incorrect, The Larry Sanders Show, Martha Stewart, and the Iron Chef.]

"We want to show people in the full totality of the way they are," Huffington said. "That way, it makes it easier to talk to people you don't necessarily agree with."

[STREIGHT: Yeah! International Flaming Convention here I come. Wait for me! I'm slouching as fast I can!]


As do other blogs, Huffington plans to link hers to other websites and to encourage responses from readers. It will be up to the commentators how much they want to take part in the back and forth.

[STREIGHT: Wow. How innovative. A blog with comments enabled, and get this: the readers can actually determine if and when and how much they comment! Awesome!]


"One tension here is that she is creating a blog here for people who are already part of the media conversation," said Rosenstiel, of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "How much readership will there be for people whose voices are already being heard?"

[STREIGHT: Good question. This is sounding more retarded the more I read about it.]

Huffington says that in the "500-channel universe," where the public is bombarded with information, repetition can be good.

[STREIGHT: That's it. I'm outta here. "Repetition can be good."? Some television commercial producer planted that idea in her head, I'm sure of it.]

"That's why we need stories to be covered and re-covered … until they filter up enough to become part of the cultural bloodstream," she writes in her proposed initial blog for the site.

[STREIGHT: Whoa. Hold on a minute. This is starting to smell like traditional broadcast BS ideology. It's "Business As Usual--But With a BLOG!"]

The Huffington Post will sell advertising. Another innovation will lead to some of the content being distributed to traditional media through a news syndicate, Tribune Media Services.

Most of the content will be posted as written with no editing.

[STREIGHT: Amazing! How did they think up all this great, astonishing innovation? Too ridiculous. I'm sorry, but I'm underwhelmed.]

UPDATE EDIT [April 26, 2005 11:50 AM]: John C. Dvorak graciously supplied me with that Huffington article URL. Nice guy that Dvorak! To celebrate, let's go ahead and re-post that comment I slapped on his article at Dvorak Uncensored:


Er…maybe John looks askance at her Bloggery credibility because her writings, at least the one I was bored enough to gaze at, Don’t Make Much Sense.

Her little blogoid is here:


And the nonsensical article that I forced myself to take a gander at:


Now in this column, she harshes the Democratic for not taking a stand on Terry Schiavo, the bulimic who was starving herself to thinness or death, then admits the Republicans look exploitive and opportunistic by rallying to keep the feeding tube in a vegetative corpse.

She makes no sense. I am neither Democrat nor Republican, and have never shown confidence in the System by casting a feeble funny “vote”…

…but she seems to want the Democrats to take a stand so she can harsh them for the stand she wants them to take….

I”m sorry. It’s all too bewildering to poor Vaspers the Grate.

Must go back to the safety and harmony of Dysfunctional Fictional Character Blogs.

Dr. Quack is depth psyching a Talking Moose and a guy named T. Alexander.

Comment by Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate — 4/20/2005 @ 7:54 am

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

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