I graduated from Michigan State University's J-school, and boy howdy do those j-school folks love to talk about journalism. Who would have guessed it? (Note: Sarcasm face thank you. ) In one of my ethics class we were talking about bloggers vs other journalist institutions and I found myself on the higher side of the scale of praising bloggers. I, up until that point, always thought it was just the old fogeys who were going, "but back in my day if you wanted to be published you had to go though an editor and if he hated what you wrote well it had no business being published in the first place." (Yes that is a strawman and I know it.) Other people had valid concerns, but I still believe that blogs do have value.
I am a huge believer of Sturgeon's law. Please indulge me in reading a quote from the guy.
I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.
Put simply it states in terms of quality in any group of of ... stuff (Nice going Pippin) 90 percent is going to be crap. Don't fool yourself in thinking it isn't because well it is. It has also been said, but I can't remember by who, that "The other 10 percent is worth dying for." I believe that to my core. I love digging through the 90 so I can get to the 10.
Freedom!!!!!! And yes I fart lightning bolts from my ass.
Now for the more personal reasons I love this. I have freedom I could never get if I had an editor. I can talk about anime one day, and than a city council meeting the next, and then ... hopefully (yeeaaaaaah I got to get on that) talk about Magic the Gathering the day after that. I can write about what I like rather than write what some editor tells me to. I also could probably never get a way with the ass lightning crack. (He he I said crack. 5 year-old's sense of humor I have.) And if the good people of the internet are cool with it why not?
The Ben Parker Addendum
You can probably guess by now I hate being told what to do. Really. My goal in life is more or less to be allowed to do what I want to do, and hopefully get paid for it. When I was a kid I hated being told what to do. (Miles that is sooooo redundant. Shut up ... me) I went more or less on the straight and narrow because if I was responsible I had fewer limitations. I could watch what I wanted on TV, go where I wanted to go , and even got a decent allowance.
My hope is that life can be like that. If you work hard, and are socially responsible you can do what you like and get paid. Most of the criticisms of blogs are that they are irresponsible. So here are some things I try to keep in mind when writing my own.
I.Being a commentator is okay some of the time, but try bring in original content to the table whenever you can.
II.If you are going to be a commentator bring something new to the mix. Say something that either hasn't been said or needs to be said. Better both.
III. Obviously truth is more important than hits.
A. Corollary to the last one, avoid sensationalism and at least try to be fair to people who you don't agree with.
C. Try to give people as complete a picture of a situation as is reasonably possible.
B. If you don't know don't guess.
i. Don't even speculate.
D. If you make a mistake fix it.
IV. You can talk about your personal life, but remember other people read it.
A. Try not to embarrass people especially your friends and family. Draw a personal line and try not to cross it.
C. Try to write stuff other people will want to read. I know. I live a boring life, but I occasionally do get my moments.
B. Try not to put anything up you're ashamed of keeping in mind III.
i. I'd rather put up an unflattering truth than a glorifying lie.
V. A lot of the fun of a blog is that well I get to have fun, but remember sometimes you should put on your serious face. I'm ripping off the Twelve Kingdoms when I say this, but life is half sorrow and half joy.
I own my stuff
Let's say I suddenly decide to become a reporter. There are two ways I know of to do it. The first is to get an internship, but that rips me of my freeeeedooommmm!!. Man even in print that's fun. But there is another problem shared by the other way. Freelancing. A good pay rate for a starting freelancer is about 5 cents a word. A decent article runs about 500 words. Thats $25 an article. Each article takes about 5 hours. Point is I would be making less than minimum wage.
Now lets carry it further. Though it's a huge hypothetical let's say this writing thing takes off, and I decide to gather all my crap into a book in 5 or 10 years. As it stands I own the rights to everything I write. If I did it the traditional way I might have to go back buying my own work Beatles style or worse go down the way Bill Finger did.
As is though, right now I make no money, but If people do start deciding to read my stuff I would be the primary beneficiary of my own work. There is something very Jeffersonian I like about that. How much I make is theoretically proportional to how hard I work and how clever I am, not how much ass I kiss.