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Friday, July 21, 2006

Those The Gods Would Humble: Weekend Without Echoes

It is said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

As readers of my blog know, I was not in favor of the Weekend Without Echoes proposed by Terry Rhea andVivian Paige. It wasn’t because I’m opposed to original content on blog sites. Far from it. And I’ve come to see Terry Rhea’s effort as a noble attempt to try to improve the quality and originality of content in the blogosphere.

My two objections were 1) that it was a response to a challenge by two professional journalists at the Blogging Summit; and 2) I don’t think all bloggers need to be reporters.

I took the challenge to mean an expectation that bloggers go out and generate original hard news stories like those that would appear in the news sections of a newspaper, complete with interviews of subjects, investigative legwork rather than Internet research, and cultivating sources. All the work that journalists do for pay.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for bloggers to do that if they want to. And that’s the crux of my objection. Not every blogger should feel compelled to do that type of news writing if that’s not what they want to do. Only those who really want to should undertake that.

It’s time intensive and a lot of bloggers are actually people with full time jobs and they blog late at night and on weekends. In short, they don’t have time to report hard news and do it well. And they shouldn’t have to, to feel that their blogs are legitimate or worthwhile.

Further, a lot of paid journalists don’t do that type of news reporting either. Op-ed writers, columnists, and editorial writers all pen their opinions and refer to others’ work as the evidence to back up their views and writing. If there is a professional market for that type of writing (and there obviously is because those are the writers who are often the highest paid and the stars at their newspapers), why should bloggers, who mostly do this for free not also be entitled to pursue writing these types of opinion pieces, complete with reference to other’s work in the very same way?

As it turns out, my argument against the Weekend Without Echoes was a straw dog argument, because Rhea and Paige, as I understand, don’t oppose that type of writing. All they want to see is less of bloggers who simply cut and paste and echo others’ work without contributing any original insight to their blogs.

I still think that a blogger can do whatever he wants that’s legal because he’s an amateur and who can stop him? But I know that when I see a blog that’s all cut and paste, with no original writing to interest me, I pretty much stop going to that site.

And if the Weekend Without Echoes encourages some of those bloggers to do better, it will be a positive thing. And it’s voluntary. Nobody has to join it.

So, I support it. But I wasn’t going to participate. So here’s the embarrassing part.

I vowed not to be a reporter. And I meant it. But what I’m about to post is exactly what I promised never to do again. Write a totally original newspaper style article about a candidate who I heard at a meeting last night. I swear, though, it’s an accident. I didn’t mean to do it at all, much less on the very day that the Weekend Without Echoes begins.

I only went to the meeting of the NoVa Central Labor Council because my husband is a member and it was a free ride home from work with dinner at Kilroys in Springfield afterwards. And I like the people my husband always has dinner with after the meeting. So I went with him.

At the meeting, as House of Delegates candidate Jeanette Rishell began to speak, I took some notes. Before I knew it I had enough to do an actual news story, sort of like a reporter assigned to cover the event.

I say “sort of” because I am not as objective as a real reporter would have to be in theory. I’m a progressive Democrat and I heard things that I liked about Jeanette Rishell. Probably a critic carefully reading my piece would detect my biases. But it’s pretty close to what Shear and Cross originally challenged bloggers to do.

I probably won’t do a story like that again. But then again, who knows? As I said, it wasn’t deliberate this time. It’s that guy God who did it to me by putting me in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyway, I probably won’t post tomorrow because of personal commitments, but on Sunday I will probably do a more personal, introspective piece that I wanted to do anyway. So, if they’ll have me, I have decided to support the Weekend Without Echoes.

But I still have anger issues with the mainstream press.

One last thing, I am doing some linking only as courtesy because one of the subjects of my post, Bruce Roemmelt has a blog and I’d like to acknowledge that. And I want to link to Rishell’s campaign site also so readers can go there to find out more about her, contribute money or volunteer to help her. But none of those links are necessary to the article. They are there to help the people I'm writing about. That I won’t give up.


F. T. Rea said...

Glad to have you on board.

-- Terry Rea

Vivian J. Paige said...

I echo Terry's sentiments and will add you to the list.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you both. You are far kinder than I sometimes am.