October 01, 2004


The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Nick Coleman puts us idiots in our place:

Here's what really makes bloggers mad: I know stuff.

Too bad all-knowing Coleman wasn’t able to help his Big Media colleagues identify a Microsoft Word document recently. Because -- and he’ll tell you -- Colemen knows a whole bunch about everything:

I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors.

Wow! Almost every county in Minnesota! That totally kills us blogger types, who never go anywhere or do anything. None of us know of these "tornadoes" or "World Series" you speak of. What are they? And, seeing as you're such an expert, who will win this year's World Series? Who will win the World Series in 2011?

Unlike the bloggies, I don't give money to politicians, I don't put campaign signs on my lawn, I don't attend political events as anything other than a reporter, I don't drink with pols and I have an ear trained to detect baloney.

Bloggers give money to politicians? That’s me disqualified. No signs on the lawn, either. That baloney-sensitive ear of yours is envied by us in the global non-baloney aural community.

Do bloggers have the credentials of real journalists? No.

Well, apart from those of us who do have those credentials, on account of being "real journalists". Which is the saddest life description I can currently think of.

Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.

Man. Imagine the contempt this guy has for people who write letters to his newspaper. They think they’re involved! Poor saps.

Bloggers don't know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square -- without editors, correction policies or community standards.

Dan Rather is a blogger?

We are not dealing with journalism, people. We are dealing with Internet chat rooms: sleazy and unreliable, with no accountability. Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook.

It would be interesting to discover which bloggers Coleman believes are fit to haul his notebook across all those Minnesotan counties.

(Via James Lileks)

Posted by Tim Blair at October 1, 2004 05:02 AM

I read this earlier and I constantly felt suprised that I wasn't seeing any tear stains on his submission. That editorial had all the look of a man who has had his dignity belittled by someone.

Posted by: jungus at October 1, 2004 at 05:47 AM

Another thing, I am getting a bit sick myself of bloggers being called hacks by lesser known journalists. I mean journalist, it has the root journal which is exactly what bloggers do, keep a journal.
This was a regional ha- er reporter so I don't care about him. I understand that Mr. Lilieks has an issue with him since they are more or less neighbors.
But I saw some show on CNBC where all but one talked about bloggers as little people that write in their pajamas in damp basements at night. The implication is that bloggers are not worthy to be considered people. I ask them what do you think of those that don't put in any effort and stare gape-mouthed at their show?
The one that was for bloggers said good things about the Wonkette and others that I'd bet are liberal.

Posted by: jungus at October 1, 2004 at 05:57 AM

I couldn't even read the whole fargin' thing.

Posted by: Mike G at October 1, 2004 at 06:01 AM

The surest sign of insecurity is ad hominem attacks.

Judging by Mr. Colemans comments, he is very insecure. Job opening at the Tribune soon perhaps?

Maybe the'll hire a blogger.

Posted by: Tman at October 1, 2004 at 06:01 AM

Not really surprising if you had ever read his self-indulgent crap in the St. Paul paper or listened to his sad-bastard radio show that he used to have (still has? Beats me, I moved).

Posted by: Dylan at October 1, 2004 at 06:26 AM

I'd guess he doesn't exactly know what a blog is, and is out of material. So he did what he always does. He wrote about it. He's a journalist.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at October 1, 2004 at 06:27 AM

I have an ear trained to detect baloney

Can somebody perhaps point us to Coleman's evisceration of the lies in F9/11? I mean, his baloney-meter must have gone off the charts on that one.

Wait, he was probably too busy hurling grade-school insults at the blogosphere to concern himself with such silly matters...my mistake.

Posted by: PW at October 1, 2004 at 06:34 AM

Ah, Nikolai Colemanovski...it's been a long time. Let's see here, along with writing in the ever-popular style of columnists like Trudy Rubin (I like to call it "parentalism," as in, "I'm your parent and I know what's best for you"), he hosted an extremely poorly-rated show on the same station Lileks used to have his show. It followed Lileks' show, and while James offered warmth, humor and a general good time, Coleman was a wretched bore; the Saturday 3-5 time slot was too good for him. I think Coleman must be feeling insecure; this is probably the lamest attempt yet by a mainstream columnist to attack those who actually do things like "check facts" that the mainstream media has deigned unworthy of its time. He didn't even have anything quotable, like "pajamas" or "ankle-biters." This is the kind of waste of ink that makes the insightful, interesting commentary found in blogs all that much more appealing.

Posted by: Big Dog at October 1, 2004 at 06:36 AM

This column was so nuanced, sophisticated and soundly reasoned that it could only have been produced by a mainstream liberal journalist. The rest of us are just not worthy and have to wait until the news is passed down and interpreted for us by our betters (like Dan Rather and the great Margo). And to think some know-nothings on the blogs think the liberal press is condescending and arrogant - shame on them!

And these people are surprised we stick with the great bloggers like Tim? They are so out of touch it is pathetic.

Posted by: Bruce at October 1, 2004 at 06:59 AM

I'm baffled by all the self-righteous "don't you know I'm a journalist?!" stuff we're hearing from the likes of Coleman, Rather, and that ex-CBS exec who made the pajama comment.

I used to run a software company, and I was always amazed at how inaccurate the reporting was in the dozens of trade magazines we covered. "Journalists" would constantly get things wrong-- wrong company, wrong name, wrong price, wrong features...and not because of bias, apparently but simply because of laziness or ineptitude.

There were exceptions-- there are a few great journalists in the high-tech press. But that experience convinced me that in trade press, journalists couldn't be relied on to be as even as accurate as most of my co-workers.

Now Dan Rather has shown us that he can't be trusted, either. It's all the same trend.

But where do people like Coleman get all this puffed-up confidence in themselves? Surely he's seen many, many, MANY examples of sloppy, stupid, inaccurate reporting in his vast experience.

Posted by: Just Some Guy at October 1, 2004 at 07:01 AM

As the undisputed King of the Zingers, Bugs Bunny, would put it.

"What a Maroon"

Posted by: Joe Bagadonuts at October 1, 2004 at 07:14 AM

0600 Australia--------out of jamies and into joggers, ready for daily 16 k morning walk and cycle-
40 years in workforce, now retired and time to reflect, on world and life experiences- never been lonely, never been bored but thoroughly-but thoroughly disgusted with MSM and its partisan reporting- leaning further and further to the left treaing any who may be more centrist are half brainers.
I am new to computers and the net, but however many of us boring old fogies have taken it to it with avengence as a means of learning and expressing our thoughts, and sharing our knowledge of life.
Sorry Nick, were not mad at you, just sad for you and collectively- we know stuff!!!!!!

Posted by: Rose at October 1, 2004 at 07:19 AM

Aw shit, nobody told me I'm supposed to wear pygamas - am I the only nude blogger around ?

Posted by: jafa at October 1, 2004 at 07:29 AM

"sleazy and unreliable, with no accountability. Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter's notebook."

That's hysterical (in every sense of the word). People get that way when they find out they're being replaced by a guy in pajamas with a laptop.

Posted by: Arty at October 1, 2004 at 07:35 AM

I am a reporter at a daily paper in NYC.

this is the stupidest fucking thing I have read in some time.

I work very hard at my job and take a lot of pride in it, but I drink no Kool-Aid.

all that self-referential shuck and jive--"i covered city hall"--is pablum. I've done that stuff too and feel confident that an orangutang could do it as well as some reporters ive seen.

journalism is a craft, learned and improved upon with repetition. There are innate skills that can make one person a better reporter than another--effort, desire, personality, humility, thick skin, the ability to work with financial or legal documents and a sense of what sells to your constituency. But to imply that Mr. Coleman has something that 90% of the readers here dont have is asinine.

Posted by: rod at October 1, 2004 at 07:38 AM

oh could some of you people let me know what credentials Mr. Coleman is talking about...I have an NYC police pass, but that's about it.

Posted by: rod at October 1, 2004 at 07:40 AM

HE knows stuff. The rest of us don't. As if none of us have educations and were hatched from pods only seconds before starting a blog. What an arrogant ass.

Posted by: Emily at October 1, 2004 at 08:04 AM

"I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors."

"Today I'm covering Dan Rather's ass."

Posted by: Bob's Your Uncle at October 1, 2004 at 08:13 AM

LOL, Bob's Your Uncle! Great one!

Posted by: Just Some Guy at October 1, 2004 at 08:14 AM

Mr. Coleman reminds me of a large portion of reporters who write from press releases and quick phone calls to their croney downtown. Having been personally involved in events that get press coverage my experience is that they are usually more wrong than right. To suggest that journalists are more correct than anyone else is ridiculous. There is little correction police and much of what reporters write today would have been saved for the op-eds of the past. Hell, there is more fact in the op-ed page today than the normal articles. Coleman, you are a poor excuse for a reporter - you didn't even know how to describe the majority of your brethren's ability accurately. Or maybe you are a columnist and so you don't have to tell the truth. I will enjoy when Minnesota goes for Bush and I can hear the quaint little liberal establishment cries of despair. More facts to report I am sure, just don't expect them from you or most of your paper.

Hmm, what is that sound I hear - falling ratings for network news and big city dailys?!! Wake up folks, people are voting with their wallets and remotes -they don't believe you anymore. But you won't do anything to prevent your continuing collapse because you refuse to see. I am enjoying watching the implosion! Most everyone believes that most networks and major dailys are organs of the DNC. You don't have to give money - you give free PR. How far behind would Kerry be if you and your ilk weren't doing everything in your power to elect him. And before you think I am stretching that one, the media has already said so - Newsweek I think?

And if you would just admit it, many would give you a pass, but NOOOO! The unwashed know not what they think they see! Pathetic! FNC is popular because people know they will get to hear more than a token conservative. In fact they know they are there along with the liberals - sometimes even more of them than the liberals - both views what a concept! Coleman - you are not a journalist or a columnist. You are a hack!

Posted by: JEM at October 1, 2004 at 09:25 AM

I can't think of anyone with the ability to dissect crap like this so well and expose the true meaning.

Another good one, Tim!

Posted by: Mr T at October 1, 2004 at 09:52 AM

Sounds to me like he's trolling for hits.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at October 1, 2004 at 10:26 AM

Just some guy-- yeah, his piece reminds me of the one really smart thing Oliver Stone ever said, which was, "It's when they write about something you know about that you realize how wrong the press gets everything."

Posted by: Mike G at October 1, 2004 at 11:05 AM

Hobby hacks? Better than being a professional hack, like Some People We Could Mention.

Posted by: AK at October 1, 2004 at 11:11 AM

What asshat "professional journalists" fail to realize is that millions of us are professionals in many different subjects. I'm a computer programmer with 20 years of experience. I'm also a veteran of the Army and Air Force, with aviation and military space experience. It's rare that I read a news article in the popular press about these subjects that doesn't contain errors. Question: If I can spot so many errors in subjects that I know about, how can I have any faith in any of their other reporting?

Fact of the matter is, most "professional journalists" are not very bright, especially when it comes to specialized knowledge. That's why the bloggers are able to so quickly debunk the "professional journalists" and why they hate us. Screw them. Their days of easy lying and slipshod reporting are coming to a close. Who knows, they may actually have to work for a living.

Posted by: Larry J at October 1, 2004 at 11:15 AM

I have a degree in journalism and I blog in pajamas. I don't work in the trade anymore, but I have a terrible time understanding why these people are fretting so.

One of the pleasures of the trade were the opportunities to speak with people who have expertise in areas that I don't, which is just about everything.

As part of one story I covered when I was working at the trade, I talked with a horticultural expert at a golf green. Try it, you'll find it's more intricate than you can imagine.

Journalists "know" what they can experience themselves, research, reason, or learn from people who know more.

Some bloggers know more.

Where's the conflict?

Posted by: Janis Gore at October 1, 2004 at 11:28 AM

How much do journalists get right?

One night just as I was going to bed I heard fire trucks rolling by. I threw a coat on went down to watch them put out a fire in the apartment building next door. Lo and behold, the next morning as I opened up the local section of the Chicago Tribune I found a picture of me with a coat over my pajamas above a two sentence caption. That caption contained five "facts" about me, the location of the fire and the time it occurred.

Three were in error.

I have kept the picture as a reminder of how much I should trust journalists to get a story right.

Posted by: Roz Smith at October 1, 2004 at 11:28 AM

If the comparison involves such luminaries as Paul McGeogh, Margo Kingston, Mungo McCallum, Maureen Dowd, John Pilger etc. I'm pretty happy to not be included in their class- I reckon I'm several steps up both the food and evolutionary chains than any of these shining lights of the third (or is it turd) estate.

Posted by: Habib at October 1, 2004 at 11:31 AM

BTW- I have a BA with majors in english lit and journalism, but worked professionaly as one for three months; the money was crap, the editorial staff were knuckle-draggers and the subs illiterate. Journalism is one of the most piss-easy degrees you could ever get- it should be a tech course, especially now seeing most just cut and paste from Reuters/AAP etc, as do bloggers (and usually a day or two prior to "the pros").
One of the other things that put me off was that many other journalists had exactly the same opion of themselves as illustrated above- arrogant, pompous twats who secretly desire a five book deal or a screenwriting gig, which is unachievable due to their total lacl of imagination. (Don't mean you, Timbo).

Posted by: Habib at October 1, 2004 at 11:41 AM

I agree with Treach, he's trolling for hits. His last column excoriated bloggers too, at least tried to.

Actually, it's kind of interesting in a way. If he is trolling for hits, it's because he knows that if he mentions bloggers, he will get more widely read and discussed. As if the internet audience has become more important to him than the dead tree one.

When the NY Times said "All the News that's Fit to Print", what they really meant was "All the News We See Fit to Print." It is the editorial gatekeepers that are being 'disintermediated' by the likes of Glenn Reynolds, and Blair here. This is what really has Nick's knickers in a knot.

Posted by: moptop at October 1, 2004 at 12:00 PM

Habib, my journalism degree capped a frustrated science education. I'm not particularly proud of it, but it was expedient.

Posted by: Janis Gore at October 1, 2004 at 12:02 PM

Hey, don't feel bad -- I struggled for years in the mistaken impression that I was qualified to be a Computer Science major; eventually I changed to Humanities, which merely requires you to be able to see lightning, hear thunder, and be warm to the touch.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 1, 2004 at 12:52 PM

By the way: people fretting over the fact that by reacting to Coleman we are giving him the attention he apparently craves. Maybe so, but this isn't junior high; when a grown-up acts nasty he isn't doing so because he lacks the necessary social graces to let you know that he just wants to be your friend -- it really does mean that he's a nasty piece of work. While he may be cackling now over "all those people, talking about ME!" it will bite him in the ass in the end.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 1, 2004 at 12:55 PM

Before I ever gave a rats ass about politics, about 20 years ago, my father, white with rage, would vent to me over Nick Coleman in a way he would not do with any other writer in the area, (I dont think he read The Minnesota Daily though). I wondered "who is this demon?" There were plenty of other columnists in the Minneapolis area with similar beliefs to Nick, but it was his mis-placed sense of superiority and lack of class, as displayed by his rudeness that really set old dad off.

It should come as no suprise that his family is waist-deep in Democrat politics around here.

I think a good psycho-therapist could read alot into his latest rant.

My own clumsy analogy would be as follows, one of the last Wooly Mammoths is in a tar pit, and he's pissed off about it.

Posted by: Thomas at October 1, 2004 at 01:16 PM

I think Nick's idea of the internet is stuck around 1996, when a common perception was that it was the domain solely of Star Trek fiends and people trolling for partners in various unmentionable sex acts. You know how every two weeks or so back then you'd have a feature story or an advice column (yes, I read them without shame) talking about How I Lost My Spouse To The Wiles Of The Fiendish Internet.

Can't comment on the journalism thing, since I was never even remotely connected with journalism even in college; not that I don't like to write things (I've sold a spec article or two, for all the nothing that's worth) but because all the people involved in it were so obnoxious; it was like the priesthood, only without all that studying and faith and stuff. But my humanities-loving self may well have gone down that path had I not stumbled into marriage with a Computer Science major and the subsequent lack of financial pressure it entailed. I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed or pleased about this sometimes :/.

Posted by: Sonetka at October 1, 2004 at 03:32 PM

Pygmies have always had trouble with their betters:

"...for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tigers' heart wrapped in a Players' hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totem [jack of all trades -ed], is in his one conceit the only Shake-scene in a country."

This, from a fellow who is pretty much only remembered because he dissed Shakespeare...

Posted by: Brian Swisher at October 1, 2004 at 03:38 PM

Here in Sydney, we had a chance to watch the big US networks in action in 2000 when they came to cover the Olympics.

The overall impression was indeed of dinosaurs, with hindsight. Vast rigid established protocols with little variation between channels. They seemed to have already written their stories, and to be just shooting a minimum of local footage cut to fit.

As I recall we here were disappointed that they didn't engage with Sydney and its people more. They didn't even stay locally, instead bringing a ship.

The results were especially apparent when compared to our local smaller, more 'amateurish' media (who admittedly borrow a lot of their format from the US networks). For example, could you imagine a US network being felixible enough to schedule daily sessions of our Roy and HG? Maybe, but I think not, therefore they either evolve or get left behind.

Posted by: Om at October 1, 2004 at 04:04 PM

I've only paid attention to politics recently but have always read newspapers however uncritcally.After a couple of events that happened locally I read how they were misrepresented by the media.I then started to pay attention and became more aware of media bias yet it was never admitted to.So for me it's great to come to a site that is honest about its viewpoint, discuss and learn about stuff covering a wide range of topics.I get the bonus of practicing to formulate opinions and express them,which is great for someone who has never had to use those skills. I have never been denegrated for mispellings or poor arguement.So as far as I am concerned this and other places like it are a democratic way to participate in political discussio rather than having to rely on guys like Nick Coleman for my news.

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 1, 2004 at 06:04 PM

Sorry mate - "we are experts and therefore never get anything wrong" just doesn't cut it. Whenever I see some dude with a masters degree calling in to the mine - ineptitude is sure to follow.

Posted by: Rob at October 1, 2004 at 11:14 PM

"I have an ear trained to detect baloney"

What he really needs is a mouth trained to detect foot.

Posted by: stevo at October 2, 2004 at 01:58 AM

If Nick Coleman was charged in court that he was an Impartial Journalist, there would not be enough evidence to even indict him.

Posted by: Big Dan at October 2, 2004 at 02:12 AM

Here's an email I just fired off to Mr. Coleman:

“Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.”

I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m also sorry that you place a blanket statement over all bloggers that dismiss them as ignorant and naïve. It only goes to show your inability to accept change. Because the world of journalism is changing, whether you like it or not. Being old in age, such as you are, has made you into a technophobe. You see yourself in the twilight of your profession, you see technology creating a more accepted and more efficient medium of communication and expression; you see your industry becoming obsolete.

It’s understandable that you would become embittered.

Have a nice day.

Cordially yours,


Posted by: R at October 2, 2004 at 03:14 AM


Welcome aboard. Glad to have you here.

Posted by: tim at October 2, 2004 at 03:57 AM

Sent the following to Nicky boy:

I don't think even the Democratic party is stupid enough to align itself with an idiot like you. Your perception of the role of bloggers is typical of all of you MSM dumb asses that will be lucky to be doing astrology pages in five years. These people's facts are checked by hundreds of their peers within in a few hours. They are aware of this fact, and report accordingly. Maybe Maureen Dowd can do Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and you can do Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends on your astrology gig?

Hello...2004...get with it stupid!

Posted by: Gordon at October 2, 2004 at 09:44 AM

I grew up with a great journalist. My father traveled all over the world, gathering evidence, taking interviews, visiting locations, and getting his facts straight. For forty years, he wrote for a magazine that had the largest circulation in the world. He had an unlimited expense account and he knew how to get a story. He had meetings at the Pentagon, the White House and Langley. He recieved death threats and was audited by the IRS eight years in a row for publishing unflattering articles about one presidential administration. Are those "journalistic" qualifications? He wrote at home, at midnight and would've worked in his pajamas, but he said he couldn't concentrate if he was too comfortable. We live in Minneapolis, and the Strib is our paper. He doesn't bother with it. He has been retired for over a decade and almost all he reads now are blogs. He loves them. He is now addicted to Powerline, and Lileks,and Hewitt, among others. He is a great admirer of the Northern Alliance.
Now, I also have a sister who has a weekly column in a Chicago paper. She has never had a single course in journalism. In fact, she went to art school after high school, and dropped out of that to get married. But, she's in print, and according to Nickyboy, that makes her a cut above, because she has access to editors and fact checkers? My sisters column is a humorous look at life from the perspective of pop culture junkie-stay at home mom. Her editor is a twenty something journalism school graduate who routinely edits all the laughs from her submissions and even once, added a screen credit to a cultural allusion that anyone over the age of twenty five didn't need. And the editor got it wrong. My sister was absolutely mortified to read under her own byline that the quote "Plastics" was from the movie Mrs.Robinson.
So much for journalistic qualifications.

Posted by: mlp at October 2, 2004 at 12:41 PM

That is the most wonderful story I've read! See, I'm 44, I stay at home, and I write on my blog. Since I was able to read and write, I've dreamt of becoming a writer. Some have told me my poems, songs, and articles are pretty good, but I have the sick feeling that it doesn't matter if you're not published. Well, I get published now! Another blogger asked me to write for them, also. How about that. I don't get paid, but boy do I feel rich! Thank you, and may His Peace be with you always.

Posted by: Rosemary at October 3, 2004 at 04:04 AM

Oh my! I left a comment after reading the nice person whose father went all over the world! I hadn't read this childish dribble! Oh my. Just wanted to clear that up. Thanks.

Posted by: Rosemary at October 3, 2004 at 04:12 AM
"I think Nick's idea of the internet is stuck around 1996, when a common perception was that it was the domain solely of Star Trek fiends and people trolling for partners in various unmentionable sex acts." - Sonetka

Hey! I resemble that remark! ;)

Ok, so I wasn't into StarTrek fandom in '96...

Posted by: Ironbear at October 3, 2004 at 10:01 PM

I've been a fan of Northern Alliance for some time now and wanted to make a difference in my local news. I live in Hudson WI, just east of the Twin Cities and the newspaper only comes out 1 time a week. I started a blog and its taking off fast. It's making alot of people nervous on the other side of the isle. I started because I was getting complements on my refreshing style in the responses to editorials in out local paper.

Posted by: Chris at October 4, 2004 at 01:37 PM