Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Blodge Job

It wasn't very heartening for us when Henry Blodget got a job at Slate. Blodget was an analyst at Merrill Lynch who became known for wildly optimistic calls on technology stocks. He was banned from the securities industry after the crash, and amid allegations of fraud, and promptly took up financial journalism. Oh goody, we thought, imagining a herd of unemployed analysts with CFAs bearing down on our innumerate behinds.

And Blodget's initial dispatches from the Google IPO and Martha Trial weren't bad, mostly because of the experience he brought to his reporting, experience which required a lengthy, but admirable, disclosure. Financial journlists are usually given a pass on understanding the machiations of the market, even the good ones, and idea of having, er, pros involved was not a pleasant one.

But then Blodget went downhill, turning in some pretty unspectacular dispatches from China, which have said, in so many words, that China is a forbidding place for foreigners to do business. All only 210 years after Lord George McCartney first reported on this phenomenon.

But Blodget's enthusiasm and knack for jarring the reader is usually expressed through numbers. He lacks a journalist's nose for ferreting out interesting angles, and can be wearyingly even-handed. This shouldn't do because, in Dan Gross and particularly Edward Jay Epstein, Slate has two awesomely fun business writers. Blodget's latest, on the investment portfolio of John Roberts, Supreme Court nominee, is especially limp:

"Roberts' one-eighth share of the cottage in Limerick (worth less than $15,000), combined with an investment in the 'New Ireland Fund' (also less than $15,000) suggest a possible Gaelic fetish."

Respect to Slate for an investigation into an overlooked part of Roberts' history, but they didn't have to publish it, let alone give it picture of the day.

Yes, we did promise you a searing expose of the miasma of limp prose that is Urb. But having done a wee bit more research - although to be honest the ads for turntables should have been a dead giveaway - we now realise that such an excercise would be pointless. Since we have only a passing ability with a cross-fader, it would seem to be a tad churlish to take pops at a patchy dance music fanzine that happens to have a lot of advertising in it.

Dance music journalism has always existed to provide some sort of bedrock level of self-respect to other music writers. Yep, that bad. It's wary, even as so much of dance music has gone mainstream, of taking a pop at its practitioners. This misguided solidarity, as well as an underground mentality that has been unable to adapt to the money sloshing around in thhe industry, has been responsible for some really boring music. And, yes, dancey drug monkeys rarely function well plonked down in front of typewriters.

But a few hints. Writing "whom", when "that", "which", or even "who" would work better, is a good way to make you look silly. And we probably shouldn't be going on about typos, but maybe you should spend some of the turntable guys' money on a copy editor. And finally, never write these sentences again:

"Heads came out in droves late on a Tuesday night to the recently renovated Mercy Lounge, a massive brick building which used to serve as a cannery many moons ago. But the only cans that were shaking this particular Tuesday were attached to legs that coudn't stop moving to the beats emitted from the stage."

Don't mention it, you're welcome.

[UPDATE. Rikey. Wonkette weighs in on the Blodge several hours later. Never dined with the quality before. No, Gothamist doesn't count.


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