Blame Benen

I first noticed this story at the blog of the Poynter Institute, a journalism education outfit, and figured they were reflecting special solicitude for the work-load of their charges:

The Washington Post’s arts and living section, Style, is looking for a blogger, an internal announcement reads. Whoever lands this position may want to invest in a serious coffee machine:

“This blogger should be able to identify trends, cutting through the noise of the Internet to bring context and perspective to a Washington audience. We envision at least a dozen pieces of content per day, with the knowledge that one great sentence can equal one great post.”

Elizabeth Flock resigned from her blogging position at the Post last year after failing to credit another news outlet in an aggregated piece. Patrick Pexton, then the paper’s ombudsman, warned against the high-volume, low-oversight blogging she and other Post bloggers told him she was required to do. Post bloggers, he wrote, “said that they felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing.”

Now amazement at WaPo’s insane expectations seems to be spreading elsewhere in the blogosphere.

I can’t help but laugh–or maybe shudder–since 12 posts is the daily target at PA. We don’t do any “one-sentence posts” but I guess tracking down a music video and briefly presenting it each morning is light duty. And I get some respite from other posters, particularly when we are rolling out a new issue of the magazine.

But if this pace is now in danger of becoming the Gold Standard, even for “arts and living” bloggers, you know whom to blame: Brother Steve Benen, who started this madness and continues it to this day with consistent excellence. Anyone who thinks this level of volume necessarily produces a lot of inaccurate, superficial or sloppy content really hasn’t been paying attention to the Maddowblog, or to PA.

UPDATE: To commenter Sheila: yes, I have typos now and then (usually corrected quickly and sometimes, as in this case, in response to alert commenters), and I know it’s annoying, but in most cases they don’t inhibit reader comprehension, and I hope it is no one’s most important criterion for blog quality. I’ll try to approach perfection, but again, I don’t think typos were what the debate over WaPo’s expectations was really about.

To commenter anandine: Yes, you’re right, I shouldn’t talk about the work load, and I’ll try to stop that. But as my wife notes often, I am largely bereft of in-person social interaction during the day, so I’m inclined to talk to my friends about it, and you guys are it!

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.