I'm not going to weigh in here on the wonderful discussion mainstream professional critics have initiated about the power of the blogosphere because I'm incapable of writing anything serious about it. I haven't been trained, you know, so I would only mess it up and, anyway, I can only write "bitesized commentary" according to Adam Kirsch of The New York Sun, so I wouldn't have enough room here to talk about how insecure their protestations sound. Although, that's probably wrong, because I'm not a professional so I'm too stoopid to read them properly. Did I spell that write? Sam at Book Chase, Imani at The Books of My Numberless Dreams and Matt at A Variety of Words have already done wonderful posts on this subject, but I guess I can't resist.
I doubt Frank Bruni (food critic of the NY Times) lives on a diet of foie gras and frisee alone - I'm sure the occasional barbecued chicken crosses his palette because it tastes good and there are different ways to get nourishment. Masterpiece Theater has survived alongside ER for years and frankly I like watching them both.
When I write about what I read, I'll fully admit it - I'm an amateur. I read for the love of it and I write about what I read for the same reason. Even if every single person writing on the internet wrote tripe, and they don't, readers are the final arbiters of what they read, not critics. I don't have to defend the quality of reading some of my esteemed colleagues writing on the net (some of them even have graduated from the sixth grade) because I'm not answerable to anyone about what I read. I read what I like, thanks very much, and I have faith in my judgment. I've read some gorgeous, smart, literate, serious, well contextualized pieces on my favorite blogs, and I've read some crap too - and I can say the same for any of the smart book reviews and literary journals that I read too.
Whether folks come to We Need to Talk About Kevin or Daniel Deronda because they read about it in the Times or at The Books of My Numberless Dreams who cares? Readers read to nourish themselves, to be a part of a community, to learn, to escape, to play, to feel, to think, to comfort themselves, to try something new - and whatever reason they have, it's good enough for me. As to the merit of their source - I thought the job of the critic was to share a love of reading the work of others, not whine because they're afraid no one is reading them.
Someone has been reading you professionals - it's been those of us who love to read. A lot of us like to write about what we read too. Pooping in your own trough creates bad karma (and it doesn't taste good - or is that 'doesn't taste well,' I'm not sure. I'm not a professional).