I sent my uncle a blog article, and he wrote back rather dismissively why I would wish to waste my time reading something from the “Mudville Gazette.” One takes his point. Blogs often have whimsical names, and even serious, thoughtful sites might be called “Volokh Conspiracy,” or “No Oil For Pacifists.” At first glance, they don’t have the same gravity as “The New York Times,” or “US News and World Report.” A second look reveals that the names of MSM sources are also quite silly – just in a pompous way. Consider the original meanings of some names of respectable newspapers:
Journal & Constitution
There is a recurring theme of we-record-the-world-for-you. That seems a bit arrogant in a democratic society. But in its era, it was the type of title needed to sell fishwrap. Is there any real difference between calling a magazine New Yorker instead of SoCalPundit, except that we historically assign a reputation for sophistication to NYC, but not to abbreviated place-names? Is the geographic name Atlantic Monthly qualitatively different from redstate.org?
And of course there are those other elegant periodicals. Is Harper’s or Forbes a better eponymy than Roger Simon or Ann Althouse? How about Esquire, or Fortune?
I don’t assign any left-right bias to the whimsical vs. pompous divide. They are products of the older era and the new. Until quite recently, an organization would not hesitate to take an all-encompassing name unto itself.
American Broadcasting Company
National Broadcasting Company
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Labor
Notice that many are now known by their initials, as if backing off from the hubris of their original titles. We seem to be gaining an ability to laugh at ourselves.
Names like Crooked Timber and Pajamas Media are looking better all the time.