What is a blog? A blog is a place in which a person can write whatever s/he wants. Only in blog-speak, bloggers aren’t writers, they are bloggers and they don’t write, they post.
The other day, I heard Patt Morrison on the radio refer to the people who comment on her KPCC blog as bloggers. I heard the hesitation in her voice when she said that. She knows that the people who write something on her blog are commenters, not bloggers. But her verbal faux pas got me to thinking about the following:
-The belief that blogging has permanently undermined print media. To be sure, the Internet (not just blogging) is changing media and, like a game of musical chairs, no one knows where the music (read: dollar) will stop.
-The belief that blogging is not as good as traditional, J-school originated print media. That may have been true years ago, but these days (especially in some local contexts), blogs do a good job. Think how Alaska blogs have kept Sarah Palin on her toes.
-(Related to above) The belief that bloggers are giving away good stuff for free and that is wrecking it for the rest of us (not me) who make money being journalists. Hey, if there’s no money, there’s no money. That doesn’t mean that issues don’t deserve an airing.
The X Factor: What scintilla of a percentage of bloggers (who aren’t otherwise employed by media sources) are actually making a life-sustaining amount of money by blogging? Or blogged their way into a book deal (which may or may not be life-sustaining)?
The Y Factor: Traditional media (e.g., commercial television) hating bloggers (not to mention that massive money-loser, YouTube) for taking away the viewing audience. Except you will see in that link that mebbe YouTube is not losing all it says it is.
The Z Factor: A mentally ill individual, someone who needs to see the world in black and white…OOPS, that’s racist…I didn’t mean “black” and “white” (Haven’t you seen Boyz n the Hood? Now one of us is going to get shot)…I meant someone who sees issues in terms of absolutes, a person for whom even the tiniest infraction of the absolutes of good vs evil sends that person into fits of lambasting not just local bloggers, but the local media.
The Scout is not a fan of my blogging. He can’t understand why I’m interested in all the people ‘out there.’ The idea of writing something that anyone, ANYONE, with web access can read, and writing without pay—well, he thinks that is ludicrous (not Chris Bridges). I tell him that I think blogs have the power to build community, and that is important to me. Blogging, along with more immediate social media tools like Twitter, has the power to organize people to make good things happen.
I’m sure the issues I’m raising here have been raised elsewhere to greater effect. Whatever. Blogging has lost a bit of its sheen for me over the last couple of years. Once, I actually believed that it was possible that a critical mass of observers of the political scene could make a difference (e.g., cryogenically preserve Sid Tyler forever, make Sarah Palin admit she didn’t have that baby).
At the same time, to the few of you who read this blog and live outside the area, let me tell you that a wonderful thing has happened here. The Pasadena/Altadena/SGV bloggers are a confederacy (are we allowed to use that word?). We pursue artistic/historical/multi-media projects IRL (in real life). Oh yes, we have our spats like any other group of people. But we cook for each other, spend time with each other, and best of all, laugh through the pain that is life.
Perhaps that’s too high falutin’. Certainly only the most astute cognoscenti can grasp the meaning over at this new local blog. (Carolina, do not expect me to let you comment here! You are exposing me in a way that is clearly biased and unfair….you, you, you BLOGGER you!)
What can blogging do? What can’t blogging do? If you blog, why do you do it?
In the meantime, I’m off to try to generate some income. Is the Star-News hiring?