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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blog as "repository" for ideas

Did you happen to catch George and Mano Singham on WCPN yesterday?

It was an abbreviated version of 90.3 at 9 thanks to the Alito hearings, but nonetheless an interesting conversation about blogging. I was hoping for more and I do hope the station takes George and Mano up on a return visit. We hardly scratched the surface.

Mano, who writes “Mano Singham's Web Journal: Thoughts on science, history and philosophy of science, religion, politics, the media, education, learning, books, and films,” said something that rang so true I perilously scribbled it in my notebook while driving down I-90.

There are those who foolishly and mistakenly believe that bloggers’ only productive endeavor is feeding their blog, thereby perpetuating the blogger mystique. After all, why would you do something if you don’t get paid to do so?

Mano’s comment about why he blogs was that his blog serves as a "repository" for his ideas. Fabulous response! You know all those half-baked ideas you have: something you hear on the radio that causes you to yell aloud; or you read something that you’d like to think through a little further; or you have an idea you just don’t want to let slip. The blog is a place for those.

I’d like to add to that:

It’s also a laboratory where you can safely experiment with your ideas, turning them around in your head, testing your theories to see if they hold any weight whatsoever. Some do and some don’t, but thank God there’s a vehicle for such expression. It never fails that the item you think will generate the least response generates the most and vice versa.

The flip side of that, however, is how getting paid for your blog affects your writing. Would you be tempted to self-censor if you were writing for “the man?” Would you temper your tone and remarks to the point where your blog loses its voice and frankly its one distinguishing characteristic? Perhaps not, but it’s certainly something to think about.

The reality of Creative Ink is that I do censor myself about many things. I work in this town and since I don’t have the title “media critic,” I find engaging in media criticism unpalatable. Do I have thoughts on it? Absolutely, and some very strong ones indeed. But I have to work within the admittedly broken system because it’s a key source of my livelihood.

That view may cause some bloggers dyspepsia, but that’s my reality. I am first a journalist and second a blogger. Until I make more money blogging than I do writing for print, I will continue to hold my tongue here and in comments elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ask big picture questions about the journalism industry that frustrates me no end yet I love most dearly.

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