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How Blogging Is Changing What We Write

— An Andrew Sullivan video is making the rounds among people who blog. So I offer it to readers of On-Ramp as a reflection on what I/we do.

In case you don't know, Sullivan is a distinguished blogger who works for The Atlantic.

Give his five-minute web video a look. I'd sum it up by saying that blogging is forcing journalistic writing in a more spontaneous direction. But is spontaneous the right word?

Maybe I should say glib. Incomplete. Imperfect. Developing. Mutating!!!

Writing a news story or a feature story used to be a business of trying to get the story right. Get it as correct and perfect as possible so future readers can access your station's/newspaper's archive and see your story as an enduring and authoritative document.

Bloggers take a different view. They see their blog post as one in a stream of stories that change as new information comes available and opinions change. It's something you write or say in the moment. This seems to suggest that it's no big a deal if you get something wrong or leave something out.

If I sound ambivalent about this blogging philosophy, I am. I still think journalists need to be accurate and thorough. But listen to Sullivan and let me know what YOU think by leaving behind a comment.


Andrew Sullivan on Blogging

Andrew Sullivan on Blogging

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Avatar for user 'Alison St John'

Alison St John, KPBS Staff | November 2, 2010 at 3:53 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I love the way Andrew Sullivan thinks.
But in some way I think news stories are not static either... to me they feel like part of an ongoing stream, . Perhaps that's why I like covering things that other people say.... "that's not news... they haven't made a decision yet! That's a process story... wait till there's something definite to report." I like covering the uncertainly, the different opinions, the conflicting attitudes so that the listener/reader (radio/web)gets to think it through themselves, and perhaps have a chance to participate before the decision is made, the thing happens.

I would suggest blogging is not different from news in that it evolves, but in that it includes a personal "take" , a risk of self exposure that adds a touch of excitement to the story.

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Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | November 2, 2010 at 7:29 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

For most of the history of civilization, news and information were the province of a small ruling elite. Literacy as a widespread social and cultural characteristic and valued commodity is a fairly recent phenomenon.

The monks of the Middle Ages were cloistered in abbeys, secluded far from the madding crowds of secular life of Europe. They were the chosen literati of the day.

They performed an arduous precursor to modern "blogging". They copied, and perhaps editorialized the content of the ancient manuscripts of Rome and Greece, as well as the Christian Bible. They preserved and defined western civilization.

Fast forward one millenium; and we find an era in western history unlike the any other in preceeding centuries.

We put an unprecedented and immense value on mass and instant communication in a wide variety of media.

Literacy is not the province of only the elite anymore.

Subjectivity and determined individualism have overtaken objectivity and the importance of the "Commonweal".

Reality is merely a state of mind. Reality is ours to define, as we perceive it.

We are all being drawn into our brave new world of our "E-LITE-RACY".

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Avatar for user 'scottymoon'

scottymoon | November 3, 2010 at 10:05 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Blogging has certainly given rise to a new breed of journalists. I still think of journalism as a profession that requires thorough training and a solid skill set coupled with Murrow-esque ethics. Call me traditional.

I read lots of blogs. Especially technology-centric blogs. What I have noticed in most of these blogs is that the writers try really hard to compose their pieces to sound intelligent, but usually come off like a high school journalism report. It's like they are sitting there with a thesaurus trying to plug big words into the story to give it legitimacy.

Because the "blogosphere" is in a 24/7 news cycle there is a lot of pressure for these teams of neo-journalists to keep pumping out stories to attract a constant stream of readers. So, while this blogo-engine keeps churning out stories I think we are losing the art of good journalism.

There will always be good journalists who go to school and learn the art... but because the weblog is so accessible, the trained Journalist will always be outnumbered by the blog-journalist.

However, I do support the idea that blogs are an important medium for delivering information. I get a lot of information and news from them. I just think that quality over quantity has huge merits. Our journalism schools should be incorporating practical theories in their curricula about writing for the web.

(by the way... I appreciate the high quality output from the team at KPBS)

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Avatar for user 'hopeheadsd'

hopeheadsd | November 3, 2010 at 1:44 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

The merit in blogging has more to do with catering to specialized micro-interests and the little movements that happen within those parameters.
For example, I get excited reading because I am a tech nerd and work in this field. When some new update comes out for a new piece of software or something that is relevant to me, it keeps me going back and relying on that site as a trusted sourcef or little tid bits like that.
However since it really only applies to my "micro-interests", I would venture to guess that 99% of the folks would care less.

I also feel a blog from an expert in any field gives real time insight that would otherwise be slightly sterile if this person were to write a book on their subject.

Last but not least, something which I think is invaluable in blogging. The ability for the reader to communicate with the blogger. This is priceless...kinda like leaving this opinion :)

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Avatar for user 'Tom Fudge'

Tom Fudge, KPBS Staff | November 3, 2010 at 2:08 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

The fact that a blog becomes a conversation makes it a potentially valuable journalistic tool. It reminds me of being a radio talk show host when people would call in. Callers don't always have a lot to say, but sometimes they are smarter than your guests on the show, and they have better stories to tell. The fact that the Internet gives everyone the ability to blog has it's ups and downs. One "down" is the fact that you can't be assured that a person's journalistic skills are up to par, and that DOES matter. Yet I'm reminded of something futurist and novelist David Brin once said, when he predicted that while the 20th century was the century of the professional, the 21st century would be the century of the amateur. When it comes to journalism, at least, the Internet has made it a lot easier to be in the game.

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Avatar for user 'scottymoon'

scottymoon | November 3, 2010 at 2:39 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Another thought on blogs: Blogs allow people who are the source of the news to communicate directly with the world. While there has been a rise in blogs powered by information-gathering organizations like Engadget and Mashable there is a real potential for those who are actually making the news to put out the information first-hand. News sources have the ability to be their own scoop instead of going through middleman organizations first.

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