Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wagstaff discovers the "but paragraph"

Jeremy Wagstaff is the author of the technology column “Loose Wire” (subscription required), which appears in the Wall Street Journal. Jeremy’s latest blog post (“Enough Mainstream Silliness, Please: The Social Web Works”)lambastes the Boston Globe for a snooty attitude toward the value of online resources that came through clearly in an article last Sunday about social networking for financial planning written by Globe science and technology reporter Carolyn Y. Johnson. The Globe story dismissed the possible contributions of the online world in this fine example of a Boston Globe “but paragraph”:

The wisdom of the crowd may be a fine way to discover the most amusing YouTube video, but Wikipedia has been vilified for inaccuracies, and the online world hardly has a reputation as a trustworthy source.

In disgust, Jeremy writes:

In one short sentence the writer manages to dismiss

  • YouTube as a mere site for "amusing" videos
  • the "wisdom of the crowd" as a mere mechanism for finding stuff
  • Wikipedia as apparently the mere butt of vilifiers, and
  • the online world as, basically, untrustworthy.

Sources? Examples? A measure of balance? Er, none…So, come on, mainstream journalists. The time is past for sniffy, unsubstantiated asides about things like Wikipedia. The social web has already established itself and proved itself. It ain't perfect, but neither are we.

Jeremy, didn’t you know that the “but paragraph” is regarded as a high literary form in the Globe newsroom?

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