December 11, 2008
SF Chronicle Columnist Responds to Criticisms of His Comments on Bloggers
San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius was put through the ringer over this past week following his comments on a CBS5 report on whether metro bloggers, like Crazy in Suburbia, Claycord.com or Halfway to Concord, were positioning themselves to fill the void left by retreating daily newspapers.
Nevius was quoted as saying:
Bloggers do a nice job and that’s fine. But what I see bloggers doing is taking the raw material they get from news organizations like this and riffing off of it.If the bloggers didn’t have us to do the start of the work for them, I don’t know what they’d blog on. So, I’d be interested to see how that happens. They’re talking pretty big now, we’ll see where they go.
A lot of my fellow "metrobloggers" were not happy with his comments. I wrote him an email, which was printed in this post, and here is his response. Actually, it's a very gracious response, and I could see that in the world of TV news soundbites that his full intentions about bloggers in relation to traditional news outlets were not adequately expressed.
He also mentions the empty desks in his newsroom. Empty desks in work places: I know what he's talking about. That's the case where I work. Meanwhile, as I post this, I'm taking a break from my office party that was moved from its usual location at some fancy local restaurant to a meal catered by a local deli and with dessert provided "pot-luck" style by employees. Not that a pot-luck style holiday party is a bad thing. In fact, it's a lovely thing, more meaningful in many ways, that the fancy lunch. As the president of my company said, "At least we're all here together, and we'll fight it out through 2009."
But I do go on. Anyway, here is what Nevius wrote me.
"Sorry to be so slow to respond. I got swamped unexpectedly. Thanks for the note. I got quite a bit of reaction to those comments. Who knew? Just to be clear, I don't think there is anything wrong with riffing off the news. My point was just that the mainstream media still has an important role to fill. But yeah, it is getting pretty grim. There are so many empty desks around me it kind of gives everyone the creeps. We're just hoping the "new'' Chronicle, with a new printing press, will revive things here in SF. Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to write."
You're welcome, Mr. Nevius. And thanks very much for the note. (Could this be a column for you?)
As I said, I absolutely do not want the Chronicle or the Contra Costa Times to go out of business. They provide an important service to our community. Besides, whose material would I riff off of for my own meager posts? I can also understand Nevius getting swamped at work and not able to respond immediately. Even though he's a columnist, maybe his bosses suddenly expect him to have to do extra jobs, work that was previously done by former colleagues who have been laid off.
Thanks again, C.W. and good luck in the new year.