How to be a blogger as a journalist
Fiona Beckett invited me to write a rejoinder to her excellent blog post, “How to blog like a journalist”.
I’m only a simple blogger. A blogger who knows nothing about the pressures, the late nights, the deadlines, the divorce and the drinking problems of being a serious journalist.
Writing my blogs feels too much like fun.
And so it should.
You blog for yourself. It’s an addiction, a drug. A wine blogger, even more so.
Even if my mother was my only reader, then I’d still do it.
For over 4 years I have sat in the dark at night and wrote my little heart out, and in the morning, something magical would happen.
Blogging is magic.
Well, isn’t that the opinion of journalists? It is too easy, not serious enough, anyone can do it. But I can’t help but notice a few mainstream journalists are suddenly calling themselves bloggers-slash-journalists. Why?
And more importantly, are they?
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Even if only because blogging is not a closed group like journalism.
Sure, there is a discipline to writing. A journalist will know they need to beat out 350 words by 5pm.
Once, very despondent and hungover on a Sunday morning, I asked the grumpy Evening Standard Andrew Neather (via twitter), “Why do so many journalists who have no experience in wine think they can write about it in the paper?”
His 140-character reply is worth quoting and I’ve written it on the inside of my work diary,
“Years of debauchery; anoraky book learning; chutzpah. Plus I can file 350 faster than some take to write a gushy standfirst.”
Apart from writing to a deadline, isn’t this also a definition of most bloggers? It’s certainly how I have had any “success” in blogging.
The secret to what I do? I can’t find anything to read out there that speaks to me (about wine) so I have to write it for myself. As far as I’m concerned the wine industry has lost the beauty in wine. It’s full of old men or Authority that has no relevance to me as a young woman who has learnt wine from doing the hard yards in the wine industry amongst big fat men (sorry, you know I love you each and everyone of you). Basically, mainstream wine journalism has lost the sexiness of wine. I don’t have the gold standard in blogging, but I do know what works for me, what is missing in media for me. Thankfully, there are a few people who share my view and I have an amazingly loyal readership.
OK, I need to pause here.
It’s not all about me.
Yes, it is.
And that could be the biggest difference between bloggers and journalists. Dobianchi asked recently, Should wine bloggers write about wines they don’t like? Along the way, he talked about how the blogger is subjective, while the journalist maintains the (illusion of?) objectivity and fact.
We want a blogger to be subjective!!! With bad punctuation, so be it!!!
Sadly, too many journalists write as if they could send the copy straight to print. Yes, it’s all very nice prose. They win the awards handed out from crystal podiums by other journalists. Yet, in my own field of wine, I want to hear what these people really think. Good and bad. There is so much spin, so much rubbish, so many lies.
Some may call it indulgence, I call it courage.
What else is missing? Apart from the subjective voice….
Where’s the pure fun of the internet? The surfing from article to article, the layout and the use of media not even possible on a inky broadsheet. Do you notice how journalists are almost scared of linking to others?
Look at the latest applications for twitter for iPad. These are just the early versions. Everything on twitter is seen as a magazine layout. It’s my favourite magazine of the moment. And it’s only going to get worse (or better).
I have news for you Journalists, your little blog is not going to save you.
Just as it is not going to save me. It’s not about the Prose, it’s about the people. Blogging is an idea about how you see the world and your place in it. This is why it is tsunamai on the horizon of journalism.
Do you see yourself as a stand-alone authority, Lording it over the unwashed masses, or do you see yourself connected with the wider world sharing ideas?
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Or is it?
This could be the start of a new beginning: blogging is the end of the tyranny of the printed word and the single-voice authority. But you know what? Most journalists know they are being shafted by the system, and agree. That’s why they write a blog.
So, let’s welcome journalists to blogging. I don’t believe in us vs them. They just need to catch up with the new world rioting on our media doorstep. We both love writing after all.
My advice to journalists: Let go and enjoy the ride. People are not stupid. They know quality when they see it. Trust. And remember, what you give you get back one-hundred fold.
Hey, it’s just my opinion…It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Leave your own comments below. Or why not write your own blog?
This is a response to original post from Fiona Beckett’s blog, Food and Wine Finds: “How to blog like a journalist”.
Video: Bill Hicks (1961-1994)