Dispatches > The Buzz

BLOGWATCH

Issue: "Arafat: The devil you know," Sept. 20, 2003

FAQ on blogging

For readers who are new to blog reading, here are some frequently asked questions and answers.

Q: Why do you keep putting Latin words in your Blogwatch column?

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A: The words aren't Latin, they're just the new vocabulary that always comes with new technology. Blog comes from web log, a new form of media that takes the form of a series of journal entries on a website. A blogger is a writer of blogs, and blogosphere refers to the interrelated blogging population.

Q: When I thought it was Latin, I read it to improve my vocabulary. Now why should I read Blogwatch?

A: Because blogs are changing the way news breaks. Blogs are responsible for whipping up the media frenzies that took down Sen. Trent Lott and New York Times editor Howell Raines. Blogs also keep big media outlets on their toes by constantly fact checking and analyzing stories for bias.

Q. I want to start my own blog but I don't know anything about Web design. What should I do?

A. Blogging requires no real Web experience. Blogger (blogger.com) is the most popular program for formatting your blog, and can even host your site. Other programs include TypePad (typepad.com), Movable Type (movabletype.org), and Bloghorn (bloghorn.com).

Q: Wow, you've convinced me! Where do I go to look for blogs?

A: The most widely read blog is Instapundit (instapundit.com), with up to 70,000 readers a day. Blogger Glenn Reynolds updates the site constantly with links to fresh commentary. His blogroll (links to other blogs) is a good place to search for new sites. For a less libertarian and more conservative viewpoint, try the Midwest Conservative Journal (mcj.bloghorn.com), which has an even longer blogroll.

Q: So, when will WORLD start its own blog?

A: The wheels are in motion ...

A rare liberal

Gregg Easterbrook of The New Republic introduced his new blog (tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml) with an analysis of media reporting about Christians. The issue at hand was Alabama governor Bob Riley's failed tax referendum that would have exempted those earning less than $17,000 from state income tax, while raising rates for the affluent. Mr. Easterbrook found the media silence on the GOP governor's gambit troubling: "Why isn't this effort being lavished with praise by the national media?... Have you heard much about how a Republican leader is using a Christian appeal to advocate taxing the rich to help the poor? Of course not." Mr. Easterbrook is the rare liberal who acknowledges that media leaders often give attention to those who, in their judgment, "make Christianity look bad."

Andrew Sullivan and other blog leaders, peeved by big deficits, have certainly not ignored Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's claims to fiscal conservatism-and some bloggers are suggesting that Mr. Dean will pick up Republican votes. But James Lileks (lileks.com) scoffs at that: "I have a hard time imagining large numbers of GOPers thinking 'I trust [Bush] more on national security than that Dean fellow, but I just can't vote for a guy who co-authored an education bill with Ted Kennedy.'"

Losing points for presentation

The blogosphere was generally positive about President Bush's nationally televised Iraq progress report. Mark Byron (markbyron.blogspot.com) was succinct: "The $87 billion price tag was a bit bracing. However, that beats the heck out of another 9/11." The strongest criticism that Kevin Drum (calpundit.com) could whip up concerned Mr. Bush's mechanics: "I can't get over the vacant look in his eyes whenever he gives one of these addresses. I swear he looks like the Manchurian candidate when he does these things."

What really angers the left, though, are polls that show seven out of 10 Americans believing that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Jonathan Alter (msnbc.com/opinion) complained, "Calling the invasion of Iraq the 'war on terror' is part of the president's strategy of deception, and those who embrace the usage are lending themselves to his campaign of lies." However, James Taranto (opinionjournal.com/best) thinks the 37 percent of Americans who say it's "somewhat likely" that Saddam Hussein was involved are right: "For one thing, he simply fits the profile: America-hating Muslim Arab male with a history of mass murder. And he's known to have had various connections with al-Qaeda over the years."

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