October 08, 2003

BlogWars, Part 3

(For the sake of decorum, this entire posting will be posted "after the jump". Charles, you do not have to read it if you don't want to: you don't even have to look at it.)

The great thing about blogs, as we all know, is that they can be updated at any hour of the day or night. Old-fashioned print media has a strict publishing timetable, which always carries the risk of a whiff of anachronism: see today's New York Times headline about California exit polls, delivered to millions of front doors long after the actual results were announced.

Now it transpires today that half the gossip journalists in New York were at a lunch last Wednesday in Grand Central Station. They included Elizabeth Spiers from The Kicker (a blog), Campbell Robertson from the New York Times (a daily newspaper), and Choire Sicha from Gawker, who was there representing the New York Observer (a weekly).

Spiers' blog didn't officially launch until the following day, but there was no mention of the lunch in her Thursday entries. In fact, the first we heard of the shindig was on Friday, when Robertson's 940-word Boldface Names column appeared. The next thing we knew of the lunch was today, a week after the event, when Sicha's 1,271-word account was published in the New York Observer. Then, finally, this afternoon, Spiers added her own 779 words to the mix.

There's an old saw among journalists that your work should be "better than anyone faster, faster than anyone better". But even Spiers, who helpfully links to both Campbell's and Sicha's pieces in her own blog entry, says that they're extensive and hilarious, raising the question of why she's waited until now to add her own two cents' worth.

Maybe the answer is that she's just too busy, jetting off to BloggerCon in Boston and generally otherwise being a media celebrity. (She was seated at the front table in Michael Jordan's Steakhouse, while Sicha was right at the back.)

And in fact even Sicha is spread very thin these days, what with having a day job at an art gallery and writing freelance for the likes of the Observer and the Morning News. But he's coming into his stride at Gawker: he had ten entries yesterday, which is the same number that we at MemeFirst managed on what was by far our most prolific ever day, and most of them were pretty good.

Right now, however, my favourite New York blog is Low Culture, a newcomer to the blogosphere which has hit the ground running with excellent and frequent entries, as well as a clean and attractive design. It's quite close to MemeFirst in the range of its interests, and reminiscent of Gothamist in its design and length of entries.

As Jason Calacanis, who now has his own blog, starts talking about the professionalisation of the blog space, it's interesting to see amateurs like Low Culture, Gothamist and even MemeFirst keeping up with the pros like Gawker and The Kicker. Calacanis thinks that Gawker's in trouble because lots of other people are going to do the same thing for money; I think that Gawker's more at risk from other people doing the same thing for free. It's an expectations game: people don't mind when an amateur blogger goes on holiday, say, or posts infrequently when their day job starts making bigger demands on their time. Gawker, The Kicker, and now Weblogsinc can't get away with that. They're held to a higher standard.

Grades, then, which include the fact that we expect more from the professional sites:

Low Culture: A
MemeFirst: B+ (although I'm biased, and we are on a roll at the moment)
Gothamist: B
Gawker: B-
The Kicker: B- (which is a huge improvement from the D+ she got last time).

Posted by Felix at 07:32 PM GMT

So much for decorum. It would, I think, be more seemly if you didn't rate yourself whilst also judging the competence of others.

Posted by: Matthew on October 8, 2003 08:10 PM

Felix-- Thanks, very decent of you. I skipped straight to the comments without reading a word of the the blog. Magical. But, even unread, I'd still swap it with your blog on Arnold. I agree with you that he's not so bad. Better than the last actor-turned-California-governor, anyway. I hope you rated yourself very highly.

Matthew-- might I complement you for making a comment that I'm sure is wonderfully apropos, but also a good lesson in life even for those who have not read the related posting? I shall be more on the lookout for the beam in my eye while engaged in mote-hunting.

Posted by: charles on October 8, 2003 09:13 PM

Seemly? The minute any of these blogs become seemly, Matthew, they automatically plunge at least a grade level. And remember, we get extra points for being "Absolutely, Completely Over".

Posted by: Felix on October 8, 2003 10:05 PM

I can think of absolutely no higher compliment than being dubbed Absolutely Completely Over by Gawker. Gosh, Felix, I knew you were a celeblogebrity, but I had no idea of the magnitude of the situation. Holy Elizabeth Spiers, Batman, we're like famous and stuff! "We are officially unacceptable in Manhattan today." Whooooooo!!! And we're in good company: after all, I find Metrocards wholly unacceptable, especially after they ripped off their name from Gawker's favorite sexual orientation. Father, hast thou forsaken me?! Is there no originality left. [Yes, my son, there is; but it can only be found on the pages of The Kicker.]

My guess? Gawker was so flattered to receive a B- from our great and noble leader that as a token of its appreciation it bestowed upon us its highest honor: Absolutely Completely Over. Its so nice to have friends like Gawker. We love them, they love us; hell we can all get in one big circle-jerk together and give New York City one big gooey facial. Just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. Excuse me, I can't wait, I have to go to the bathroom.

Posted by: Sam on October 8, 2003 11:01 PM

You gave ourselves a grade??? I'm coming over to New York ASAP. I'll be there next Thursday, and Matthew and I are going to do an intervention. It's the EuroMoney awards you hand out, isn't it? You've become a pathological grader, and it's all because deep down you crave to be graded yourself. Don't worry, help is at hand.

Posted by: Stefan on October 9, 2003 12:37 AM

i notice matthew's rooster piece has been re-posted. this was posted on the 9th october, it says next to the link on the main site. however the comments are from the 7th october. hmm. how can people comment on a blog posting BEFORE it has been posted?

is there some sad reason for this, like some other random up it's own bum oh so very sophisticated NY blogsite which no-one should care about -- but with a much larger readership -- linked to it and thus it should be put in a more prominent position? whoever it was that reposted it, that is not cool. that is sad. be more cool! stop caring so much! people will respect you more!

Posted by: eurof on October 10, 2003 12:02 AM

I agree 100% with Eurof. If people care about Matthew's cock, they will seek it out. He doesn't need to wave it in everyone's face, as it were.

Posted by: Felix on October 10, 2003 12:17 AM

I just liked the idea of playing with time. Worked, too.

Posted by: Matthew on October 10, 2003 05:51 AM

No playing fast and loose with publishing times. It confused the hell out of me, I thought MT was broken, etc... And it's cheating.

Posted by: Stefan on October 11, 2003 12:19 AM

Yes yes yes already.

Posted by: Matthew on October 11, 2003 12:22 AM

Oh face it Eurof, you're just jealous that you weren't quoted. And 'Stephan' is narked because the venerable Ms. Spiers mis-spelled his name. I think we should re-post the blog permanently to the top of the site. Meanwhile, what am I to do with my new found new york fame? Can I sell it on e-bay?

Posted by: charles on October 11, 2003 03:52 PM