Thaksin, The Times, and The Ca t

Was at the beach for a couple of days, and when I got back I found that the real world truly has a rhythm of its own: Thaksin Shinawatra had tendered his resignation, the New York Times had changed its online look, and the comment threads in our little corner of the blogging world had buzzed with life (here’s one of them). I hope I will be able to respond to most if not all of the comments —  if not soon, then at least in the fullness of time!

The Times’ new look is, in a word, amazing. I still look up to the newspaper as the gold standard in journalism, despite the scandals of the last few years. I think the Washington Post has a better understanding of the role bloggers play in journalism’s continuing evolution; for instance, it features its many bloggers right at the top of its site’s front page, on a rotating basis. But the Times is still the news leader; the new look (which took effect April 2) allows it to live up to that role. (It also uses a cool typeface even Issy of Barakocafe would approve of.) I still have deep reservations about the pay-per-view Times Select, which had the surely unintended effect of reducing the online readership of Times columnists; but the new look’s wide screen, its combination of old features and new, its wealth of multimedia options, its easy navigation (the books section, to give just one example, is still easy to find) — just wonderful.

Incidentally, the April 5 issue has an editorial on the Philippines. The following paragraph has a reading of the political situation (these "dark days") which I would classify as decidedly centrist: 

Mrs. Arroyo is no Ferdinand Marcos, at least not yet. But this onetime reformer is reviving bad memories of crony corruption, presidential vote-rigging and intimidation of critical journalists. Unless the Philippine Congress and courts find ways to rein in her increasingly authoritarian tendencies, democracy itself may be in danger.

Lastly, a quick reply to The Ca t, who took me to task for "allowing" Hermes’s plus-size dig at Sassy Lawyer: I do not moderate the comment threads; I only require an email address. I think this best approximates my own ideal of the public square, in the context of the blog. Of course, "best" is relative. Of the 677 comments this blog has received since it started, I’ve had to remove maybe six or seven, for using obscene, even scatological, language. (The first five or six, which I believe came from a poster in Baguio City, was a series of unbelievably vicious personal attacks on another blogger).

It is in this context then that, yes, I am responsible for "allowing" Hermes’s comment. Does that mean I agree with him? Only if one grants that, by "allowing" The Ca t’s comment, I also agree with her.

But the real world has a rhythm of its own; I am glad The Ca t was able to drop by.

Update as of April 6, 3:50 pm: Found out the International Herald Tribune, which is now owned 100-percent by the New York Times, also carries the "dark days" editorial — but as its lead piece, and with a different head. Read "The sad decline of Arroyo."

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8 Comments

Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics

8 responses to “Thaksin, The Times, and The Ca t

  1. Hermes

    I am Hermes and I welcome any of you felines to contact me if you wish. I find nothing wrong with my comment. It is not my fault if some are simply over-sensitive.

  2. There is a principle in Scholastic theology, buried somewhere in the innumerable tracts of T. Aquinas that could apply to this little tête-à-tête on criticism.

    (Or maybe I just made this up, but it ought to still apply. HeHeHe. Especially in this rather impersonal medium we now find ourselves gathered together.)

    When a person thinks ill of another, then it matters less to that person what another says, because it is quite easy to find fault.

    However, if one considers another a neighbor, a true neighbor, then no matter what that person says, one can always find something good, simply because there is never any malice assumed or proffered coming from a true neighbor.

    Say Amen, please.

  3. djb

    AMEN to that Amadeo!

    I guess my own chuckling take on the whole thing is that the Philippine blogosphere is a tiny, tiny puddle in a growing river of blogs and news. But as with many pioneers, like Sassy, they can come to resent the later immigrants to a country they think they discovered, or own the tollgates of popularity too. They are dead wrong. I expect the blogosphere to bust down all its enclosures and grow exponentially, largely out of control of the gatekeepers and the cream will just naturally rise to the top, while the sour grapes sink to the bottom!

  4. DJB

    Just think, when or if guys like Choy de Quiros or Patty Evangelista or Ambeth Ocampo or JB Baylon or Chitang Nakpil or Alex Magno–when the Main Stream discovers Bloggerdom’s vast potential of interactivity between authors and audience–the playing fields will all be leveled, and giants may also walk the land with the pygmies. Then will the infectiousness and durability of one’s ideas, one’s memes, be the true test of popularity–when the medium represents a fairer fight than the logistical reality on the ground today. The quality of the writing online is already equal to the mainstream, and nimbler, more connected to the rest of the world. But they are not in competition. Blogging is the Comment Thread of the MSM now. But soon the lines of distinction are already blurring…

  5. Hermes

    Look, Ca t at what you have unleashed. Your champion suddenly appears so small and unimportant. There was never a holy grail to protect. You have simply defended some ideal, some standard that compared to what was in the wide world was plainly lackluster. Get on with your life. Meow.

  6. Dean: Ohohoho! So are you saying the hatred some bloggers have against traditional mediamen-turned-bloggers is due to the fear that they will be overtaken?

    The very same fear these bloggers say traditional media has against bloggers in the world of reporting? 😉

  7. jackryan68

    Re Dean and Sassy,I guess it’s also about something else:) Got this from her Frankly Feminine blog, which has been discontinued:

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    How low can you go…

    … to become a “famous” blogger? Some bloggers are traffic-obsessed; others are links-obsessed. Both have the same goal–to be considered among the so-called A-listers, whatever that really means.

    And there are those that will stoop really low just to get noticed. Like that old blogger–a former newspaper columnist–who went on a blogging hiatus then returned seeking to pick up where he left off. When he didn’t get noticed beyond getting mentioned in a few blog entries here and there, he resorted to tactics that was so sickening I couldn’t believe an educated person could do what he did. He visited blogs, baiting bloggers and commenters, posting inflammatory comments and sowing intrigue apparently thinking he could get bloggers to pick fights with other bloggers. I banned him in my Sassy Lawyer blog, actually. Pathetic old man. Can’t accept that fame and popularity are fleeting things.

    I suppose it has nothing to do with education. We have highly educated government officials and look how low they can go.

    Posted by Sassy on 03/03 at 02:49 PM

  8. Some bloggers are traffic-obsessed…

    wasn’t she who wrote way back a self-congratulatory blog composition about her site meter nearing to break the 2 million mark? wow, with that number, one can stage a people power to rally behind her. virtual nga lang. nonetheless bow ako sa fingering prowess niya. buong araw naka-blog, kahit pagluluto binablag. kabagan ka nya, hoy!

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