Monday, June 9, 2014

In Which I Discuss The Nature Of Blogging

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

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I truly love the comments on my posts, including the ones from people who disagree with me. I often read them multiple times. Lots to learn from both sides of the argument. That being said, some people without much to say figure they're making a point by commenting about my failings rather than the issue at hand. Why did you write a post about someone else's post? Run out of things to say? All you do is trash BASIS. Don't you have anything better to do?

Then there are those commenters who figure it's really gonna hurt if they call me a lousy journalist, and, furthermore, The Weekly is really going downhill by letting this miserable excuse for a journalist write on its website.

Here's the thing. I'm not a journalist. Don't pretend to be. I'm a blogger. I write on a blog. There's not a clear, bright line between journalism and blogging, but they're two distinct forms, with some overlap. Here's how I see the basic difference.

Someone once said, "Journalism is the first rough draft of history." Well, blogging is the first rough draft of journalism.

What good journalists tend to do is gather a big stack of information on a subject they're writing about — pulling together background, attending events, doing interviews, that sort of thing — then figure out how to pare all that material down to a story of reasonable length that captures the subject as well as they can. Tomorrow, things may change, but the story is supposed to give the reader an honest look at what's happening on a given issue at a given moment.

What a blogger like me usually does is take one or two pieces of the data journalists find in their pile of information and write about it. There's no attempt to cover the topic thoroughly like a journalist does, though sometimes that happens. It's me saying, "Hmm, this looks interesting to me, you may be interested too," or "You may not have thought of this topic this way. Let me explain how I see it."

If you're going to a blog for your primary news, you're going to the wrong place. Sometimes bloggers break news, and sometimes real journalists write blog posts to break news before they (or someone else) publishes it more formally, but mostly blogs are more like public diary entries, public log entries. That's where the name comes from: "web log" to "weblog" to "blog."

Here's another way of looking at the distinction. A reporter is standing behind a podium in an auditorium delivering a carefully formulated lecture on a given topic to a group of people who are hoping to be informed; the better the journalist, the better the lecture. A blogger is sitting in a living room, a coffee shop or a bar with a group of friends and anyone else who might be interested saying, "Hey, you may have missed this." "Hey here's a notion I have. Want to discuss it?" Blogging is much more informal than journalism. At their best, blogs are valuable and stimulating and informative, but I wouldn't think of using blogs as a substitute for the pile of newsprint that sits on my lap every morning as I drink my coffee.

Sometimes what bloggers do is repeat what someone else has written or a video that's out there on youtube. Those kinds of posts make up at least half of what's on The Range. And it's great if you like that kind of thing, because, did you know Sir Mix-a-Lot performed "Baby's Got Back" with the Seattle Symphony? You would if you read Henry Barajas' post, and there's the highly amusing six minute video you can watch. Thanks Henry! Did you know a woman whose child attended BASIS San Antonio is very upset with the school and wrote a long narrative about her concerns? Read my post which links to the post with her narrative, and you'll find out what she has to say. If you're not interested, don't bother. I'm just letting you know about something you might not have heard about.

That's what I do. If you want to insult me by calling me a rotten journalist, don't bother. If I considered myself a journalist, I might be hurt (if I was thin-skinned enough to be hurt by that kind of thing). Instead, you're saying more about your lack of understanding about what it means to be a blogger than about my lack of skill as a journalist.

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