True news about news

Since the mainstream media doesn't do any reporting anymore
(unless it's to detail the influence of blogs), 34 picks up the slack: Bill Keller, the Executive Editor of the Times, spoke at last night's Blue Pencil Dinner (& Lecture!). I tend to, ummm, drink a bit during these sorts of events and don't always focus on exactly what the speaker is saying, but when he started talking about blogs I perked up. The Times news section, I take it, isn't too crazy about the blog phenomenon, and Keller believe that they're a fad that will die out sooner rather than later (because who really expects the Internet to be around in three years?). Exhibiting the type of tact that you'd expect from the most powerful editor at the most powerful media entity, Keller dismissed small-operation blogging enterprises with questionable or nonexistent journalistic standards as "one man circle-jerks." Attempting to display the tiniest shred of journalistic integrity, I made sure to note his exact phrasing on my cell phone using my free hand. That's really what he said.

During the Q&A session I asked Keller about the growing influence of the online editors (or whoever it is who determines story placement on their website) in determining what people actually read in the paper, since just about everyone I know gets their news from the Times website rather than the print edition, and clicks on the little homepage inside box image links to read whatever stories were featured. Keller said that the placement of stories on the "above the fold" section of the website is pretty similar to how the stories appear in the print edition, and that the online editors ultimately answer to him regarding what gets featured where. I don't know if I got across how important the placement of stories on the website has become when it comes to determining what news actually gets read, but I'm sure they've spent a lot of money on focus groups and the like and have a good understanding of the issue.

Along with Ross McSwy., I went up to Keller at the after-party at the bar formerly known as SoHa (which, yes, is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as David Brooks drinking whiskey at the West End last year) to ask him a bit more about blogging. Ross decided to point out that I had a blog, and was also kind enough to point out that 90% of my blog's readership was in the room at the time (and he was right), and Keller asked me something about blogging and conventions–it was either whether I had gotten to cover the Convention this summer or whether I had gone to some recent convention for bloggers or something like that. Regardless, I am pretty sure he was mocking me, so I just kind of shrugged. I got him to admit that he does read certain blogs regularly (though one would only assume that he doesn't have 34 bookmarked) and said that he has no personal animosity towards the blogosphere, but that there are simply too many bad blogs out there. I responded by telling that that there were an awful lot of bad newspapers out there, too, at which point he started talking to someone else who was probably looking for a job.

So that's the scoop, for those that missed out.

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