Editing is really a good thing for the blogosphere
There is a kerfuffle in the blogosphere because Matt Yglesias’ employer forced a post into the blog Matt writes that disclaims something Matt said about a group called Third Way. And there are good reasons for raised eyebrows. It’s the wrong way to make such a disclaimer. The Center for American Progress could have asked Matt to quote it. They could have put it on the front page. They could have replied in comments. Regardless, it is pretty clear that the disclaimer was a response to whining from Third Way rather than the editors’ independent best judgment.
Many commentators, though, seem most troubled by the doubt cast on Matt’s ability to post uncensored and unfiltered. Uncensored? Fine. But unfiltered? Every post you see by me or most of us on Gristmill is “filtered.” It is called editing.
I can’t speak for other posters, but the privilege of having an editor is a major benefit of Grist’s blog over the hundreds of blogs out there where the contents of my brain could be poured directly on the web. Yes I’ll get grumpy sometimes when we have conflicts over what and what is not civil content, or when I don’t like a headline. But that is the rare downside. In every post of mine, at the very minimum, typos are corrected and word choice is improved. Someone always does basic copy editing. On occasions I’ve seen major structural changes and better documentation of points. Once in a while a post is returned unpublished with feedback on how to improve it.
Editing is one reason that most published magazines are better than most blogs. Editing is one reason the best books published by commercial or academic publishers are still better than the best self-published stuff. The blogosphere has many advantages over most old media, but a lack of filters or editors is not one of them. I don’t think Grist gets enough credit for trying to save the role of editors in the “new media” that often tries to do without them.