Take the opinion pages at the NY Times Opinion and Washington Post today.
Nicholas Kristof writes and interesting column on The religious wars where he basically picks at Robert Wright’s book, The Evolution of God. For the most part, Kristof reports that Wright ‘explores,’ he ‘argues,’ he ‘cites.’ he ‘argues’ again, he ‘detects,’ he ‘says.’ Then Kristof draws his conclusion.
George Will takes the same approach in his column The gift of not giving. But he uses his entire column poaching key thoughts from the book to make the author’s point before he draws his own predictable conclusion.
In both cases, the columnists offered no original thought, not even any complementary or differing research. They simply did what blogger do: they take key passages from a piece and build their argument around them.
In a world of 6 billion people, it’s hard coming up with anything original to say. The most a columnist or blogger can do it to add to the din on the side they support.
Ya, the din coming from the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post is far more cacophonous than the pin-pricks of protestations from a WordPress blog. But is it noisier than, say, 1,000,000 bloggers telling Obama to ‘End the war in Afghanistan?’
Columnists got their soapboxes well before the internet and blogging was born. It’s not hard to see that their days are numbered: newspaper will eventually discover that a blogger with something truly interesting to say is a lot more noteworthy than columnists whose main challenge is to fill a space.