Romenesko Misconstrues Google on “Scribes of Drivel”

Jim Romenesko misreads the point (Link is now dead. See update below) Google veep Jonathan Rosenberg is trying to make in an email Romenesko links to (via a link to an NYT blog).

The Romenesko headline says:

Google veep calls journalists “the faceless scribes of drivel”

But the Google note doesn’t say that (though it’s easy to see how it could be misread). It actually praises journalists as “voices of quality.”

Sharing, not guarding information, has become the golden standard on the web, so not only can anyone publish, but virtually everyone does. This is both good and bad news. No one argues the value of free speech, but the vast majority of stuff we find on the web is useless. The clamor of junk threatens to drown out voices of quality.

Meanwhile, those voices are struggling. The most obvious example is newspapers, which have historically been the backbone of quality original reporting, a post they have mostly maintained throughout the Internet explosion.

I think when Rosenberg says the “faceless scribes of drivel” he’s talking about the proliferation of valueless blogs, rumor mills, and aggregator sites that I’ve noticed increasingly clutter up Google’s search results.

After all, he says this right before the “faceless scribes of drivel” comment:

We need to make it easier for the experts, journalists, and editors that we actually trust to publish their work under an authorship model that is authenticated and extensible, and then to monetize in a meaningful way.

Hardly a slam of journalism.


Romenesko has updated his post and e-mailed this note of explanation:

“As you correctly note, my early-morning read of the essay was off mark. I changed the item to fix that.”

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.