The Post‘s “Outlook” section is completely devoted to opinion articles. Yesterday, the Outlook editors chose to reprint a portion of a blog. They didn’t use the word “blog.” Instead, the article began:
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, director of the Center for Democratic Studies at the University of Haifa, is a visiting scholar this year at Johns Hopkins University’s Institute of Policy Studies. He writes a monthly newsletter about Middle East politics that he sends to 300 people in 23 countries. It also appears on the Web at almagor.blogspot.com. His comments in the newsletter about Israel’s recent assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin prompted a spirited exchange with several recipients. The following excerpts are published with the writers’ permission.
Anyone who is familiar with blogs will recognize the style of the entries that follow. They are too articulate to be transcriptions of unrehearsed speech, yet they are informal. At least some of the participants appear to know each other, and all adopt a familiar tone (“Hi Steve”). The writing is personal and vivid. The participants appear knowledgeable, but they express opinions rather than present information. They are an international group, and their occupations are very diverse, yet they converse as peers. The reprint in the Post is actually more typical of blogs than the original material on Almagor’s website, for Almagor lists his sources (including academic articles) and writes fairly long essays.
I haven’t noticed any previous occasion when a great American newspaper chose to reprint portions of a blog as part of its editorial content. Of course, more people are already visiting the most popular blogs than reading any article in the Post. Nevertheless, I presume that newspaper editors retain a sense of professional superiority over bloggers, so the appearance of a blog in the “Outlook” section is a symbolic moment.