It’s a Little Too Cozy at the Washington Post

It was a cool idea, a fresh kind of quid pro quo for Bookslut. Bring in a journalist, one who had bashed the blogosphere, onto a book blog, and see if she could blog without referencing her peers.

Well, it turns out that in a little over a day, Jennifer Howard doesn’t practice what she preaches. And not only that, but her colleagues at the Washington Post don’t have the gonads to state their names! Whereas we folks here in the blogosphere stand by our words. Sometimes we’re anonymous. But we’re always the same people, not some “anonymous blogger” in the wings.

From March 1, 2004, Entry 1: “Now I can spend the rest of the morning trying to figure out why review outlets like the WaPo have to sign confidentiality agreements…”

From March 1, 2004, Entry 2: “And the Post (that’s DC, not New York) ran this on Saturday.”

From March 1, 2004, Entry 3: No mention of the Post, but a callout to the Complete Review.

From March 1, 2004, Entry 4: “Followup comment from a WaPo colleague.”

From March 1, 2004, Entry 5: “That same WaPo colleague.” and “my 18-month-old daughter.” What’s up with the shameful personal details? Fer shame!

From March 2, 2004, Entry 1: Link to Washington Post article.

From March 2, 2004, Entry 2: The first post that doesn’t involve the Washington Post or a link to another blog.

In other words, out of seven entries, Jennifer Howard has linked or mentioned the Post six times. Or a Linkwhore Ratio of 85%!

Now, by contrast, let’s take a look at the blogs that Ms. Howard attacked in her article on the days she mentioned.

TMFTML, October 30: 8 entries, 1 post referencing Old Hag and Whatevs, 1 post referencing Maud. Linkwhore Ratio: 25%

Maud Newton, November 6: 5 entries, 1 post referencing Old Hag, 1 post referencing Literary Saloon. Linkwhore Ratio: 40%

Moorish Girl, November 7: 4 entries, 1 post referencing Maud and the Old Hag. Linkwhore Ratio: 25%

Old Hag, November 7: 3 entries, 3 entries referencing other bloggers and 1 that day going out of its way for a shoutout. Linkwhore Ratio: 100%

Okay, so Howard may have a point. But then everyone in the blogosphere knows that the Hag rolls around with everyone. So she doesn’t count.

But we can’t discount the fact that Ms. Howard has greatly outperformed the other ratios. And whereas the other bloggers linked to several people in their posts, Ms. Howard has continuously linked to a single source! What’s more, she has not only continously linked to a major newspaper (i.e., the Establishment), but she has failed completely to link to the exciting up-and-comers (like, The Syntax of Things or At Large, to name just two). She has linked to merely one. Furthermore, as my colleague Mark has noted, the erstwhile über-book info source has become dangerously contaminated with Buffy and Oscar references.

Maybe that’s the point. In the newspaper world, everybody gets to be a hypocrite.

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