The bloggers have arrived -- but have a lot to prove

Jon Friedman writes 2/28/05:

...[T]he rants of the vast majority of bloggers have about as much impact on the public's understanding of the daily news as the shrill eccentrics I encounter everyday on the subways in New York City.

MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY? Are bloggers legitimate journalists?

I emailed Jon:

We bloggers will just keep breaking stories and you will keep writing thumbsuckers about what does it all mean. Are bloggers journalists? Are novelists journalists when they do journalism? Are columnists such as yourself journalists when you do journalism?

"Journalism" is a pretentious term and your questions here are stupid. Why don't you stop sucking up to the people you write about in the regular media and start breaking some stories?

I guess it is easier and safer for you to keep regurtitating cliches. When was the last time you broke a story?

Jon Friedman replied: "Thanks for your note. You’ve confirmed my opinions about bloggers."

To generalize about bloggers is like generalizing about drivers or backpackers or make-up artists. They inherently have little in common and only an idiot like Friedman would use a critical email about his mental and journalistic competence as a basis for confirming his prejudices about a wildly differentiated group.

I replied to Jon:

Thank you for the courageous way you answered my questions, such as, when was the last time you broke a story?

I want to believe that my impression of you as a lazy journalist is wrong. So perhaps a simple URL to something where you advanced a story would do.

He didn't respond. I guess it has been such a long time since Jon advanced a story that he can't remember the decade let alone the year.

Gawker has a good takedown on another of Friedman's columns:

Jon Friedman: One of the Good Guys

Who said journalists aren’t helpful? Sometimes when a writer interviews someone, there are statements that are left unsaid or implications that linger between the lines. It’s up to the writer to either clarify those statements or let the subject dangle on the end of their own ill-chosen words.

Take, for example, Jon Friedman’s profile of The New York Times’ Hollywood correspondent Sharon Waxman on MarketWatch. Comparing the impact of The Times to that of her former employer, The Washington Post, Waxman says something that almost—almost—could be construed as negative. Luckily, Friedman saves her:

How does a talentless hack like Friedman get to be media editor of MarketWatch? Because he knows how to kiss up to people who can help him and defecate on those who can't.

MarketWatch's Jon Friedman Is A Junk Columnist

His stuff is easy to read but rarely insightful because he sucks up to his subjects. His latest column is on Sharon Waxman, Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times.

Sharon claims that she loves answering questions but I've only read obseqiuous interviews with her. Anyone who's challenged her, such as New York gossip Jeanette Walls, gets blown off quick.

I asked Sharon a couple of weeks ago if she was interested in doing a more challenging interview. She's yet to call me.

Jeff writes:

Noticed your recent interchange with Jon Friedman; I couldn’t agree with you more. He’s a real embarrassment, and more. Below is an email I just sent to the Marketwatch editor, with a copy to Friedman. I’m sure it’s a waste of time, but I enjoyed sending it anyway.

“I want to complement Marketwatch on the hilarious “media column” by Jon Friedman. It’s so rare to find a serious business publication that is willing to risk its reputation by crossing over into literary satire. The irony and sidesplitting humor of a “media critic” who continually exposes sycophancy, incompetence and bias – except in this case only his own! - is truly a classic. I’m sure I join many, many readers when I say we’re laughing with you, not at you. Honest.”

The Man Who Knew Too Little and Wrote Too Much

Paul McCreary writes March 20, 2006:

Sadly there's a fourth category of critics, whose reporting is as lackluster as their prose. The leader of this last bunch would likely be Marketwatch's Jon Friedman, who we've been reading for some time now, thanks in part to constant links to his thrice-weekly column on Romenesko.

Friedman is a puzzling case. At first, we wondered if he was just a fount for whatever the conventional media wisdom of the moment was -- but that's an unfair rap. Then the possibility presented itself that he was trying to get ahead of the conventional wisdom, which gave rise to his oddly disconnected body of work. But that one didn't stand up, either. So we finally settled on an option that seems to work: Friedman occupies the odd cultural space of both upholding conventional wisdom while struggling mightily to understand it himself.

...Friedman doesn't necessarily seem to practice media criticism as we've come to understand it. Instead, he fumbles over a wide range of media issues with little destination in sight and with few examples to back up what he's trying to say. At best, he needs an editor to clean up his goofy, at times embarrassing, prose (example from the Lou Dobbs piece: "Understand, this was an issue close to Dobbs' heart -- and mind, not to mention his liver, gallbladder and spleen. You see, Dobbs puts his entire being into a cause when he gets his mojo going"), and at worst Marketwatch needs to cut his writing schedule down from three pieces a week to two, or even better, one. He -- and, for that matter, most columnists -- just isn't up to the task of churning out three reported, reasoned columns a week.