“No Buzz Marketing”

John Freeman on blogs: “It’s one thing to accept advertising money: that’s what has kept papers afloat for years. It’s quite another to make a commission off the very object you are purporting to criticize.” (Emphasis in original)

John Freeman while criticizing newspapers: “#4) Join the NBCC. If you’re a working critic and have published three reviews (online or in print) over the past five years, join us — the more voices we have behind us, the greater our chances will be at preserving the cultural dialogue in this country.”

And here’s more nonsense from Freeman: “But in the struggle for bragging rights something gets lost: the awareness that for every lit-blogger who has been serving up opinions daily since 1998, there are five books editors who were around when Toni Morrison’s first book landed on their desk in 1970, and are no longer.”

Who’s the one really boasting here? I certainly harbor no illusion that I was the first person writing about books. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, there were critics reviewing books decades before the NBCC. What should matter here is where the media environment is right now and what all of us can do to maintain and preserve book coverage. As I suggested on Monday, it’s “a united front, whereby literary and “sub-literary” enthusiasts of all stripes, print and online, litblogger and journalist, campaign on behalf of literary coverage in as many conduits as possible.” It seems to me that Freeman doesn’t seem to be aware of how similar his posturing is to online hubris.

UPDATE: In his latest column, the always dependable Scott McLemee addresses the book reviewing problem on many fronts, pointing out persuasively why online media, academic librarians and university-press folks should support book review sections and sign the petition, while also revealing Freeman insisting that Critical Mass is the “blog of record” for literary and publishing news.


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