Hello, bemused New York Times readers
I’d like to thank Suzanne Nossel and David Greeberg for holding down the fort here at danieldrezner.com while I was away at my brother’s wedding. Contrary to David’s fears, their tag-team of insightful and provocative posts kept my traffic levels at very respectable levels. UPDATE: You can read David’s final thoughts by clicking here. Furthermore, ...
I'd like to thank Suzanne Nossel and David Greeberg for holding down the fort here at danieldrezner.com while I was away at my brother's wedding. Contrary to David's fears, their tag-team of insightful and provocative posts kept my traffic levels at very respectable levels. UPDATE: You can read David's final thoughts by clicking here. Furthermore, I see that David made the most of his experience by writing about his guest-blogging stint in the New York Times.
I’d like to thank Suzanne Nossel and David Greeberg for holding down the fort here at danieldrezner.com while I was away at my brother’s wedding. Contrary to David’s fears, their tag-team of insightful and provocative posts kept my traffic levels at very respectable levels. UPDATE: You can read David’s final thoughts by clicking here. Furthermore, I see that David made the most of his experience by writing about his guest-blogging stint in the New York Times.
“You should have a blog.” Apparently I push my opinions on my friends rather aggressively, because I often hear this remark. Last week, I had my chance. My wife and I agreed to be “guest bloggers” – the online equivalent of what David Brenner used to do for Johnny Carson – for Dan Drezner, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, who runs a popular libertarian-conservative blog, DanielDrezner.com. How hard could blogging be? You roll out of bed, turn on your computer, scan the headlines, think up some clever analysis while brushing your teeth, type it onto your site and you’re off. But as I discovered, blogging is no longer for amateurs or the faint of heart. Blogging – if it’s done well – has evolved into an all-consuming art…. I did have sympathy for the audience. They expected their usual diet of conservative commentary. Instead, they got a liberal foreign policy expert (Suzanne) and a liberal historian linking to Arts & Letters Daily (aldaily.com) and the History News Network (hnn.us). One Dreznerite vilified me for linking to a piece by the liberal journalist Joe Conason (“Why on earth would you think that gutter-dwelling hack would have any credibility on this blog?”). At one point, Dan took time out from real surfing in Hawaii to post a note informing readers that he had two liberals subbing for him. He must have been watching the train wreck on his beloved blog with horror…. I wasn’t the only newcomer to blogging last week. On the ballyhooed “Huffington Post,” Gary Hart, Walter Cronkite and David Mamet dipped their toes in the blogosphere as well. I don’t know how they’ll fare, but I doubt that celebrity will attract readers for long. To succeed in blogging you need to understand it’s a craft, with its own tricks of the trade. You need a thick skin. And you must put your life on hold to feed an electronic black hole. What else did I learn by sitting in for Dan Drezner? That I’m not cut out for blogging.
Some reactions to this piece from Ann Althouse, Sheila O’Malley, Bill Quick, QandO, Steven Taylor, Tom Maguire, and Pejman Yousefzadeh. My own jet-lagged thoughts:
1) Some useful links: Here’s my explanation for why I invited Greenberg and Nossel to guest-blog. Click here to read Greenberg’s Yalta article in Slate, and here to read Greenberg’s follow-on post which contains the “moral cretin” comment. Having been in Hawaii and blissfully oblivious to the whole speech, I’m not prepared to comment on it one way or another — but go read my colleague Jacob Levy’s rejoinder to Greenberg and other critics of the Yalta reference in The New Republic Online. 2) For the record: I checked in on the blog/e-mail only once while in Maui (David, I was snorkeling, not surfing), and posted the public service message because I received a few e-mails from readers who were confused about exactly who was blogging. UPDATE: CNN got confused too. 3) My lovely wife, after reading Greenberg’s essay, turned to me and asked puzzledly, “there are Dreznerites?” I’ll leave it to the commenters themselves to answer that question [If the answer is yes, could you ask them if they’d be interested in buying wildly overpriced danieldrezner.com merchandise?–ed.] 4) I hate to break it to Greenberg, but in my writing experience, the worst invective I’ve ever received hasn’t been from blogging, but from…. this Slate essay on Bush’s management of foreign policy. Click here for some of the more amusing responses. 5) And c’mon, David — my readers are quite familiar with Arts & Letters Daily and the History News Network (neither of which to my knowledge has an explicit or implicit political bias). And I’ve had a few conservatives question whether I provide a “usual diet of conservative commentary” in my posts (again, see that Slate piece of mine). 5) Finally, I would encourage David not to give up on blogging for the wrong reasons. I agree that blogging is a craft, but not one that requires hobbyhorses, shticks or catchphrases. In my experience, successful political/policy blogging does require an unusual mix of skills:
a) The self-confidence to post about anything and everything; b) The willingness to post admissions of error after screwing up; c) Having the courage to walk away from a half-baked post when you recognize that your thoughts are too inchoate to press “Publish.”; d) A very, very good internal editing mechanism [Thank you!–ed]; e) A recognition that blogging is like almost everything else in life — a skill that improves with plenty of practice; g) A saintly spouse.
Of course, Greenberg is a fellow untenured academic, which presents some perfectly valid reasons for not blogging — but that’s the topic of another post entirely.
LAST UPDATE: Suzanne Nossel posts her thoughts about blogging at danieldrezner.com here. And David Greenberg has asked me to pass on the following missive (after the jump):
I?ve just found a free moment. Because you said you?d be back Monday [It’s true, I did–DD], I thought I?d do a final post today (Sunday). I was planning to flag the Times piece and say thanks and farewell. But now you?re back before I made my final post. So I was wondering if you might put up a few last thoughts from me. (In fact, please include this graf, because I want readers to know I meant to notify them of the Times piece.) So herewith: (1) A big, big thanks again to you and to your readers. (?Dreznerites? was Suzanne?s coinage, meant as a term of endearment.) For all the harried moments I focused on in my Times piece, I really had a lot of fun doing it. Of course, I know full well that your readers aren?t monolithically conservative, or disproportionately mean-spirited; those were just the ones who chose to mix it up with me — as is their prerogative, nay, their duty. Above all I was grateful for not just your readers? indulgence but for their intelligent comments. As with the Yalta piece, they led me to clarify my arguments. (2) I hope you and your readers realize that the Times piece was meant above all as a statement of my newfound appreciation for what blogging entails. I think reader Dustin Ryan Ridgeway is right to say that other bloggers? commentary may have colored the reception of my piece. [He has a point–Glenn Reynolds took the story in the vein Greenberg intended–DD.] My god, I certainly wasn?t trying to ?sniff condescendingly,? as another reader put it. My key point in the Times piece: good blogging ?requires as much talent as sculpting a magazine feature or a taut op-ed piece.? I meant that sincerely. (3) We may differ on the precise ingredients that make a good blog. But I should make clear that I don?t see hobbyhorses, schticks or catchphrases as bad at all. I like these things! Also, like you, I found that having a saintly spouse came in handy. (4) I think most readers did appreciate that my Times piece was tongue-in-cheek. But for those who didn?t: No, I wasn?t really all that shaken by Dan?s quite sensible ?public service message.? Nor did I really presume readers ignorant of my favorite sites — though I own up to ignorance of a lot of blogs out there. And I?m a bit thicker skinned than perhaps I suggested (talk about schtick!). Sorry if my humor was lost on some. (5) I certainly did not wish to imply that harsh discourse exists only in the blogosphere. The Internet as a whole facilitates hasty and intemperate posting and e-mailing — something we?ve known since those discussions of ?flaming? ten years ago. Slate constantly struggles to maintain a high-quality ?Fray? that balances civility with freewheeling debates. And as I wanted to say in my Times piece (lines were cut for space): talk-radio and shout-TV, not to mention many of the books dominating the best-seller lists these days, prove that no medium has a monopoly on shrillness. (6) Your own jet-lagged, tossed-off thoughts are remarkably eloquent and sharp. Another reason I admire you and other top bloggers. It really is hard to do well. So — and I think I can speak for Suzanne on this last note — thanks again, and farewell. I hope to see you in bricks-and-mortar land sometime. And if you need a tenure letter, I?m there. Warmest regards, David
All emphases in original.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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