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August 26, 2005

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Nyhan writes, "In general, the problem with Slate is that it's virtually content-free. There's almost never new reporting..." (Emphasis added.)

You don't supposed Nyhan could add a few more qualifiers to couch his criticism of Slate, do you?

What does Nyhan consider "new reporting"? The latest quotation from an oft-quoted talking head? A first person account of an event? Do telephone interviews count as "new reporting"? Document searches or database dumps? Is it "new reporting" to spend the day in the Library of Congress reading books? Is a piece to be considered "reported" only if it shouts out that it's "based on 27 interviews with top authorities in the field"? Is a work of journalism "unreported" if the writer spends time collecting quotations and facts but doesn't use them because they don't advance the story?

As for Alterman's aggressive discounting of my ideas about book reviews because I've never written a book, what can I say? Would he gong the views of dance critics who'd never danced professionally? Architecture critics who've never designed a building? Rock critics who've never played in a band? Would he disqualify a political column that criticizes the president because the writer has never been president?

Does this mean he intends to recall the book reviews he wrote before he published his first book?


Brendan,

Isn't it a little lazy to criticize Slate as "content-free" just because it has little original reporting? Maybe that's not the content it's attempting to provide. A place with features such as the "Book Club" dialogs, Bushisms and Best of The Fray doesn't seem like it's trying to just be another newspaper or magazine.

Do you really think that Daniel Gross (Economics/Business), Dahlia Lithwick (Law), and Dana Stevens (TV), to name a few, provide either content-less crap or over the top contrarianism?

I'm not all that pissed off, I just think you took a precise criticism (people trying to be like Kinsley without the right talent/bearing) and generalized it to unfairly rip the whole publication.

Otherwise, you usually do great work - keep it up!

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