Saturday, October 16, 2004

What's up with the Zorn-Steinberg feud?

Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn and Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg have been in a *feud* for months. The latest slap from Steinberg is in yesterday's paper, where he insults all bloggers as well. It's here:


Speaking of laughing at people. I'm not into writing as a hobby. I don't go home and jot down poems in green India ink and read them to a dozen hipsters at coffee houses. I like to get paid for my work, and I prefer a lot of readers. Scorn me if you like.

Thus I've never gotten into this whole "blog'' business -- the personal diaries of various self-appointed commentators who pour out the tortured musings of their hearts to dedicated handfuls, at least until they get tired and quit. I have tried to read a few of the more popular -- and some of the not-at-all popular -- and found that, in general, the lack of interesting material to be culled buried under huge expanses of vomitous verbiage makes the entire endeavor a waste of time.

Thus I can't answer a question that has been rolling around my mind, ever since a grinning pal at the Chicago Tribune mentioned something to me. Here's the question: If a guy writes a private blog, but it's actually vetted by two or three editors and lawyers within that guy's giant media conglomerate, is it still a blog? Isn't it then a corporate Web site masquerading as a blog? Kind of like those faux micro breweries -- the Old Hog's Head Beer Company -- that turn out to actually be divisions of Miller Beer? Doesn't that make the supposed blog something false and deceptive and shameful? Just wondering.

Neil, you insulted me a little bit.

So this puts me firmly in the Zorn camp (his best recent slap at Steinberg was when he noted that Steinberg used his column to essentially beg for some reader to send him opera tickets).

And clearly, he doesn't get it. A blog isn't a diary and more than a column is a love letter. A blog is meant to be read by others. There's no such thing as a private blog. And if Steinberg is trying to make fun of people writing about their personal lives in blogs, why does he spend so much of his columns writing about his wife, or his health club, or the endless Seinfeld-esque observations from his daily routine?


MDS said...

Welcome, Romenesko readers.

I'm sure many people are here for the first and last time, but as a regular, I'd like to advise you to check the place out. If you have an interest in Illinois government, you'll see a lot here that's worth your while.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Hi media hounds -- for the record, though I think Steinberg is a bit of a jerk, I feel bad for him. He's a very good writer, but so damn ornery. I look forward to his return.

(Thanks for letting me know, MDS, who runs another great blog at Teaching Evolution in the blogroll).