Christie Blatchford wrote an excellent piece in Thursday’s Globe and Mail entitled, “I’m not blogging this, mark my words.”
Her article is basically a rant about the challenges of blogging in Beijing, of the challenges of journalists blogging and of the effects that new media tools like blogs and podcasts are having on journalistic quality. I won’t recite it all for you here, but here are a few of Blatchford’s more notable points:
On journalistic quality:
This is the democratization wrought by the Web, and if it has actually helped open up closed societies such as China’s, in the West its chief effect, at least upon journalism, is to diminish whatever craft, and there is some, is left in the business.
On conversations online:
On The Globe website, our slogan is “Join the Conversation,” but in the blogosphere, what follows isn’t usually a conversation but a brief, ungrammatical shouting match. You can have more pensive chats in a bar fight.
It is not true that anyone can write. It is not true that anyone can write on deadline. It is not true that anyone can do an interview. It is not true that anyone can edit themselves and sort wheat from chaff. It is not true that even great productive writers like The Globe’s Jim Christie or Ms. DiManno or Mr. Farber can hit a home run every time they sit before the laptop. But the odds of them doing it are greatly increased if they haven’t already filed 1,200 words to the Web, shot a video, done a podcast and blogged ferociously all day long.
I don’t agree with all of Blatchford’s points about blogging, but I think she does hit a few home runs with this piece.
Journalists are being asked to do more and more with their time. I don’t think, as she quotes Michael Farber saying, that we only have a finite number of words in us, but if you have to get more and more words out every day the quality is surely going to down.
The blogosphere does sometimes degenerate into a shouting match. Of course, you will encounter idiots and immaturity wherever you go but it’s more visible online. I think the key there is a good commenting policy and smart moderation. Unfortunately, I think the law of averages plays a part – as a site gets more popular, a certain percentage of readers will engage in mindless shouting.
Writing is an art. Not everyone can do it well. One of my old bosses was fond of saying that you can’t teach everyone to write well; it takes a certain level of talent to do it. That means that some sites will be poorly written, and that readers have to learn to be discerning in what they read. That also means taking some responsibility for what you choose to consume.
What do you think of Blatchford’s article?