On blogging

It occurred to me the other day that keeping a blog – any sort of blog – is a pretty brave thing to do. Braver, perhaps, than true-blue journalism. Most of the time with journalism (filing articles and the like), one takes great care at preparing something that is fit for publication and, once it has been filed, usually forgets about it. Usually, the only feedback the journalist gets is from the editor. The journalist knows if he or she is happy and that’s all that matters. To hell with the readers. The money is in the bank, let’s move on.

Blogging, on the hand, is quite a different kettle of fish, in as much as fish fit into kettles. I may be mixing my metaphores somewhat, but that is exactly the point. In this blog, I can say absolutely anything I want, and no editor is around to admonish me. It’s wonderful.

Sometimes.

But, at other times, one wonders if one isn’t sticking one’s neck out too far. Obviously, I don’t have a huge number of readers on this blog (one must be thankful for small mercies). But, on the other hand, I do seem to receive a worryingly high level of abusive comments for such a small readership. The topics that have so far generated the greatest level of incoherent ranting have been over John Granville’s death, Al-Qaeda extremists and, bizarely, El-Obeid.

I kind of find myself wondering if this is normal for bloggers the world over (perhaps it’s some kind of international sport – nothing to do this evening, let’s verbally abuse a blogger), or if I am really writing such incoherent twaddle. Years ago, I did a journalism course, which placed great emphasis on the importance of knowing ones readers (meeting them, talking to them, etc.). And what better way of doing this than keeping a blog?

I’d like to continue whittering on about blogs – in particular to explain that they are not supposed to be the same thing as journalism, which few of my stalkers seem to have understood – but I think I will step off the stage and let a much more experienced journalist say things for me. Take it away, Gideon Rachman.

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2 Responses to “On blogging”

  1. marklturner Says:

    As a new blogger I wonder the same issue – do I really want the readers that blogs seem to attract? My background is as print journalist where I met regularly my readers in the flesh, had demograhics on the readership and as much research as you could ever want.

    I console myself that it is still an industry in its infancy and at some stage there will be a serious network of informed opinion sharing. But even in print journalism you never truly escape the ‘Angry of Tunbridge Wells’ feedback so we’ll just have to put that down to human nature.

  2. Colin Cartmell-Browne Says:

    I think the fundamental difference between blogging and journalism is that blogging invites audience participation.

    More to the point a blog allows an immediate response. You read something, you disagree, you respond. Whereas with print journalism you read something, you disagree, you respond much later- usually after you’ve cooled down and probably realised that its not worth responding.

    Here’s a test: write two articles which are exactly the same. Publish one on your blog and the other in a newspaper, even providing a email address. I bet the blog will get more negative responses than the printed article.

    I also think its worth considering that only extremists are likely to react to a blog in the first place. For every 1 nasty email you got I bet there were several people who agreed with you but just never got around to responding!

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