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Old Newspaper Trick Backfires in Blogging Round-Up

Scott Rosenberg, in “There is no “first blogger,” dismantles the Wall Street Journal’s well-intentioned but surprisingly clueless weekend round-up about the so-called 10th anniversary of blogging. At issue, for many folks, are the Journal’s assertions about who did things first in the weblog world. By general agreement the newspaper got it wrong.

In We the Media I wrote:

Justin Hall was a sophomore at Swarthmore College in 1993 when he heard about the Web. He coded some pages by hand in HTML. His “Justin’s Links from the Underground”15 may well have been the first serious weblog, long before special­ized weblog software tools became available. The first visitor to Hall’s site from outside the university came in 1994.

The Journal does a nice job of getting quotes from a variety of people who read (and in one case don’t read) blogs, capturing some flavor of why the publishing form has become so important.

But the introduction, which misses so much, is what Scot accurately calls the Journal piece a typical example of the

needless effort being dedicated toward a pointless goal — the identification of a “first” that is really only of use to old-fashioned editors eager to fill slow-news days with anniversary features.

Is this a lesson for other journalists? It should be but probably won’t be.

1 Comment on “Old Newspaper Trick Backfires in Blogging Round-Up”

  1. #1 Olav A. Øvrebø
    on Jul 16th, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    This criticism is exaggerated. The WSJ piece takes the edge off its own periodisation by noting that it is an imperfect exercise and that “proto-blogs” existed before 1997 (Marc Andreessen recently reminded us of that – take a look at this page from 1993). Maybe the WSj had a thin excuse for running a blogiversary article, but they did a very fine job with the selection of bloggers and pundits who actually have a lot of substantial things to say.