The Bookends of Life
The Lunatic-in-Chief?

Painting All Bloggers With One Black Brush

[EDITORIAL NOTE: In a special Retirement section today, The New York Times has published a story, Elderbloggers Stake Their Claim, which includes an audio interview with Mort Reichek of Octogenarian. Milt Rebman of Milt's Muse is quoted too along with yours truly. You might want to take a look.]

For many years, Boston Globe columnist, Ellen Goodman, has been a favorite of Crabby Old Lady’s. She has found Goodman’s thinking to be, sometimes, so inspired and thoughtful, that she’s even sprung, once or twice, for a book of her collected essays. But last week Ms. Goodman disappointed Crabby.

In an ignorant column about a few bloggers who shamefully blamed journalist and Iraq hostage Jill Carroll for her own captivity and accused her of anti-Americanism, Ms. Goodman accuses all bloggers of polluting the media.

“…not a good moment for the bustling, energetic Wild West of the new Internet…”

“…many [bloggers] have only one exercise routine: jumping to conclusions.”

“These attacks raise the question of what bloggery is going to be when it grows up. An Internet op-ed page? Or a polarized, talk-radio food fight?”

“…mostly unedited, without standards or correction boxes.”

Many Bloggers? By Ms. Goodman’s standards, we should condemn all newspapers, including her own Boston Globe, for the frauds of Judith Miller, the plagiarism of Jayson Blair and Ben Domenech, and the fabrication of Mitch Albom in writing a report of a ball game before it was played.

Crabby was amazed to see that although Ms. Goodman singled out Don Imus’s producer, Bernard McGuirk, for his slander of Ms. Carroll without disparaging all of talk radio, she allowed no such grace to bloggers, all of whom, according to Goodman, are responsible for the contemptible words of a handful.

It is as though Ms. Goodman is living in time warp. Until about two years ago, mainstream media famously dismissed bloggers as pajama-clad poseurs until some political bloggers beat “professional” journalists at their own game during the last election campaign.

Now newspapers liberally quote and proudly link to bloggers who mention their stories. They even solicit mentions from bloggers, as Crabby Old Lady can attest with marketing emails from such publications as Newsweek, Time and others landing in her inbox each week.

So, on what planet has Ms. Goodman been living for the past few years? Crabby wants to know. Blogs are almost mainstream these days.

As with a few mainstream media reporters who break the rules of journalism, some bloggers are unethical, insensitive and indecent. The vast majority, however - millions upon millions - are honest, careful editors of their own writing and quick to correct errors when they are pointed out. Some are even professional journalists. Others have been journalists in the past and still others, journalists and not, post their standards and practices on their blogs - which is more than some newspapers do.

Ms. Goodman ended her column last week with a disingenuous call for amends:

“For many bloggers, credibility - and decency - should begin with an apology to a survivor named Jill Carroll.”

The few (not “many”) who trashed Jill Carroll are not the sort who will apologize. After this misinformed screed, Crabby believes it is Ms. Goodman’s credibility which is at risk and she owes all the blogosphere an apology of her own.


"Many Bloggers? By Ms. Goodman’s standards, we should condemn all newspapers...."

Indeed, some of us paint "mainstream media" with a broad brush of blame for the misdeeds of some reporters. It is so easy for us humans to group people together, that it is difficult to guard against.

It would seem that Ms Goodman over-reacted, somewhat. However, while I don't countenance "blaming the victim"; neither do some victims get points for having placed themselves in harm's way. If I understand the situation correctly, Ms Carroll weighed the risks and decided to go into a war zone (little, if any, of the country is stable.) If this understanding is correct, Ms Carroll must take some responsibility for her decision.

ronni, let's start with the good news: your excellent piece in the new york times. i've been amazed how many women in this city, women who think of themselves as quite uptodate, are internet-phobic.

in two organizations for professional women, i've heard, "what will we do about the people without email?" my response, "let's help them get addresses!"

then there's ellen goodman who has been a stalwart, sound feminist for many years. i'm disappointed. is she not aging well...afraid of blogging because it seems a threat to traditional journalism?

finally, do you have any clout with the times? today's "retirement" section appears only infrequently--especially considering who their readers are. another blogging article by you would be about elderbloggers who are women--from Takoma Gardener to Blogging in Paris.

thanks once more, naomi, in nyc

I totally agree with you Ronni. Ms. Goodman is way off base here, and needs to mend some fences. I find what she said insulting, irresponsible, and incorrect. Thanks for a great post.

Thanks for bringing the retirement section to my attention, Ronni; I had planned to do my taxes today but you've given me a reason to put that off. Good elderblogging article, and a nice picture of you.

As for Ms.Goodman, several years ago I put her in that category of People I Seldom Read Anymore, and this latest rant from her just affirms that status. I think a problem many MSM journalists have with bloggers is they feel envious of our freedom to write what we want, without outside restraints or deadlines, and more than just a bit threatened, especially with newspaper circulations falling everywhere.

So Cop Car thinks Jill Carroll is, if not to be blamed for her abduction, at least responsible for putting herself in harms way? And can the same be said of ABC anchor Bob Woodruff who was wounded while videotaping a news story in Iraq?

Is Cop Car advocating that all journalists leave the war zone, or was this just a case of sexist malarkey?

Great post, Crabby! I'm surprised the Ellen Goodman would get mired in the mud of that kind of generalization. She's a good writer. She should have a blog!

I love Milt's quote about how it's like talking over the fence like a neighborhood! Wonderful!

You make very good points and I did notice that myself. Bloggers are all lumped together as if they're one amorphous mass.

On other things - I'm so sorry I missed your 65th. I literally didn't get the memo and have distracted with other things - not getting here as often as I should. So happy belated birthdy.

Big, big congratulations on the NYT article. I found out about that because the Blogger Buzz RSS feed on my home page said simply, "NYT - Elderbloggers" and as soon as I read that title, I thought I'd find Ronni in the article there. I have to say, though, in your picture you don't look all that "elder". Anyway, great going!

Ronni Your quotes in the New York Times today are super. And the photo is a good one. It is fun to see where you sit in front of your computer communicating with all of us. It might be fun sometime for many of us to describe our computer "dens" so others can at least have a word picture of where we are.

Ellen Goodman -Bah humbug-
she is obviously carrying around some heavy baggage, chains and all, with her twisted thinking on blogs.

Reminds me of Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" Bah humbug Ellen

I'm locked out of the NYT article but want to say this is another well-written piece, Ronni, and comments are excellent also. I do believe the lady fears the already evident power of the internet and its blogs, and may wish to try it herself, but then it's risky and provides but a meager income, eh?

Chancy - the photo in The New York Times is not my home. It was taken at an internet cafe when I was in Portland, Maine, a few weeks ago.

Well...where to the best to last!

I've been a fan of Ellen Goodman, too, though she has had her issues in recent years. But, I went straight to her article before reading your piece, Ronni, or any of the comments lest my thinking be influenced.

I felt so enraged with what I read, I then proceeded to send her an email which included admonishments about over-generalization, my experience as a non-blogger in the blogosphere, and a whole lot more, some of which I read in your post, Ronni, and in the comments of others.

One of the things I said had to do with using judgement to discern between bloggers, just as I do when I read newspapers, or watch TV news.

Also, I'm beginning to think the responsible, credible bloggers are the last bastion of Fourth Estate strength trying honestly and truthfully to represent the people of this country in helping us maintain a healthy balance of power with our government.

I, too, suggested Ms Goodman owed an apology to all the worthy bloggers of which there are many, and I'm not even a blogger.

The best for last ... thanks for the NYT link; enjoyed the article; well-deserved write-ups on blogs, all of which I enjoy. Hope there will be even more publicity all over the country in the future, and elderbloggers increase in number.

M Sinclair Stevens--(First let me affirm that I am an elder woman.) No, my statement was not sexist. My feelings would be the same toward any civilian--be they journalistic, religious, or whatever--who chooses to go into harm's way. I don't believe that anyone should get kidnapped (having been abducted at gunpoint, once, myself) or shot or tortured; but, I have not the same sympathy for one who voluntarily accepts a risk that would be present for a combatant who has no choice but to be in the area. (Well, even our military is "voluntary" these days, so I'm a bit perplexed about my feelings on their presence, too. Had we had a major military action in the 1980s, I could well have been activated by the US Navy.)

When one attempts risky endeavors (drinking, smoking, sky-diving, flying, skiing, etc) one assumes a certain amount of risk for her/himself. I give the journalists (both sexes) credit for being intelligent enough to know the risks of being in a war zone, and for their being able to decide which assignments to accept.

Hey Ronni,
Here's a link to the article that won't expire.

You can generate your own blog friendly links that son't expire and are free to view from blogs using the NYTimes link generator.

Ronni, loved the article and the Ellen Goodman part is disturbing enough that I have to take the time to really digest it! I will link to the newspaper article in the next few days, though.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)