Cher Public

Lebrecht, c’est echt

La Cieca was contacted this morning (not too early!) by a representative of the “Lebrecht Live” programme on BBC3. The show is set to discuss the burning topic “Is there cultural value in blogging?” And this is what La Cieca has to say, at least to begin with:

One may read consistently brilliant cultural criticism on a blog or else unremitting unspellchecked drivel. But that’s the risk one takes in reading any sort of journalistic writing. The difference is that in more traditional media, the grossly incompetent tend to get sifted out before they actually get published. An idiot blogger needs only to figure out how to turn on the computer.

But no writing can have cultural value unless it is actually read, and no writer can make an impact on the culture unless he has an audience. Now, admittedly, some blogs garner millions of page views without offering a single serious idea in return, but one could say the same thing about tabloid newspapers and “reality” television. There are serious readers, though, who are attracted by provocative ideas well expressed, and there are certainly blogs whose content is both interesting and stylish. These are the blogs that can be said to offer substantial cultural criticism.

Particularly in the U.S., mainstream media have been reducing their arts coverage, arguing that there is not a broad audience for this kind of content. Blogs have, I think, helped to fill the gap for those of us who are indeed interested in serious discussion of arts topics. One boon peculiar to the blog format is that a blogger need not trim his thoughts to an arbitrary word count; neither need he expend half his column-inches rehashing the plot of Carmen or reminding the reader of Mozart’s Masonic connection. Instead, he can present his ideas unmediated.

Of course mediation is not always a bad thing; most blogs could use an editor’s eye. But readers, I think, are willing to tolerate the odd prolix or inelegant sentence if the ideas presented therein are provocative.

A further “point” is the community aspect of blogging. Most blogs allow comments by readers, and so the communication becomes two-way. The blogger is not simply handing down his thoughts from on high; rather, his posting constitutes the first argument in a debate. Admittedly many of these “debates” either fizzle out or “flame” out, but in the best cases, one can find a real forum of ideas on a blog.