On blogging, part 5
And this will conclude our 5 part series on blogging. Let's all thank intrepid Goat Reader cfowen for the inspiration to write on this topic.
Back in the olden days of blogging - y'know, 2005 - there was a perceived hostility directed toward the blogs from the print journalists. I don't know why, although Kyle might be able to explain since he's dealing with old and dusty graduate school professors who still seem to think that instead of .org, we should be .666 or something. (Hmm. goatriders.666. Has potential.)
That sort of thing used to piss me off back when I was a younger man whose blood ran hot. Actually, a few years back we interviewed a number of journalists about their perceptions on blogging, including Tribune writer Paul Sullivan. I invited him to join in on the round table on a lark. He was one of those perceived blog haters and believing that offense is the best defense I'd written some unkind things about him in the past. Then he happily consented to the interview, Googled his name with ours, found the Attack Article and EMailed me a WTF?! letter. Suffice to say I felt like a jackass.
It turns out that our perception of hostility is mostly wrong. I've EMailed a number of journos about blogs and have never gotten back a hostile answer. Then again, I've never EMailed the Jay Mariottis of the world either but he seems to dislike everybody -- not just blogs.
I asked Paul* about it earlier tonight, and this is what he had to say on the matter. He said "It's hard to say what journalists feel about bloggers, because many of us now have our own blogs, and we tend to like ourselves a lot. I think in general we like a good blog when we come across one, and basically ignore the rest. The proliferation of Cubs blogs since I started poking fun at you guys at the Cubs Convention is phenomenal, though only a handful are readable in my estimation. I don't know of anyone who is anti-blog, but we do have a lot of our stuff ripped off and inserted into blogs without any attribution, so that's somewhat annoying. Hope that answers your questions."
(*Note to Goat Reader HarryCaray - this isn't name dropping. Anybody can EMail Paul Sullivan. Much as Sully wouldn't be name dropping if he quoted Ryan Dempster in an article on pitching, I'm not name dropping by quoting him in an article about blogging and journalism)
In England, it is also a completely different story. I'll let our own Kevin tell us more about it:
Kevin: "(Bloggers are) way more mainstream really. I mean, not in the sense that they're treated as complete equals to news etc. but bloggers get a lot of respect. The BBC blogs heavily for example. Top Gear have blogs for most (all?) of their writers and the magazine's letter page has a column which picks their favourite blog from the past month and prints a bunch of comments from it. The Guardian is quite famous for hiring former bloggers as journalists - they hired Salam Pax and published his blog after the war. Their TV columnist is Anna Pickard who was a London blogger but she recently moved to Silicon Valley where she still reviews UK TV for them! Belle de Jour has had her blog turned into multiple books, then a TV mini-series, and I believe US TV has picked it up too. Basically in the UK the big name bloggers get book deals and newspaper columns. They don't always have to be very good, just famous enough."
I don't see that happening in the States anytime soon, but it's only a matter of time before the scales tip a little more toward bloggers and the best of us get paying gigs writing for media giants.
Until that time comes, enjoy your hobby. Blog constantly - it's good practice and you will theoretically get better as you go. Don't pass up on the occasional opportunity to create a compelling hoax, or to have a blog war with another blogger who's more popular than you. If you ever wind up getting interviewed for a news article, try to be extremely controversial. If they actually use your good quotes*, your readership will probably rocket. And have fun - if you're not enjoying yourself, it's time to quit.
(*The journos who have interviewed me have never had the guts to use my good quotes. Pansies.)
This past week has been a long journey. We discussed naming your blog, dogging through the slow times, selling advertising to any broker with a Paypal account, finding a hook that makes you unique and keeps your readers coming back, and, finally, how you're perceived by the mass media community. Hopefully you've learned something. Maybe you now feel inspired to create your own blog. But if not, don't forget that you can blog at GROTA in the Readers Blogs section -- which often gets promoted to the front page of GROTA, only to be confused by non Cub bloggers for being the opinions of the Goat Riders on this site rather than the Goat Readers. Good times.