The Cyberbrains

Research and contemplation in new media

If I say I blog, am I really a “blogger?”

I didn’t see this coming, but I’ve begun to feel a bit guilty about blogging.

Clyde BentleyI blog in several locations, but perhaps my favorite is the massive MyFoxSTL system in St. Louis. It is populated by some 13,000 registered bloggers – very few of whom are erudite and even fewer of whom are media types.

Writing as MOJo Prof is my touchstone with the subculture that puts blogging in the headlines. These are everyday people who are suspicious of the power structure, of anything “elite” and especially of the traditional mass media. And they let me know it every time I write.

It took me several months to recognize the underlying theme in those comments: I’m tentatively welcomed as a visitor, but I will never be “one of them.”

This community of screen names and avatars seems to enjoy my comments about the mass media and the fact that a professor is paying attention to them. But the bloggers often hint that I may be making too great an assumption when I equate the “bloggers” on newspaper and television staffs to people like them.

A case in point was a recent discussion on the importance of spelling and grammar. Like most journalists, I equate proper English with credibility and knowledgeable commentary. A few of my blogger friends agree, but most shrug off my concern with language as an indication I am from another world.

“First many bloggers like myself, understand that most of the bloggers do no write for a living,” noted the blogger Servantofchrist. “Heck I went from corporate management to a landscape contractor and designer. Sure the blogs can sometimes be difficult to follow but they usually can be understood enough to follow the point that is being made. I enjoy the content and message more than the ‘wrapping’.”

Or, as Mike-from-Il said with a great deal more simplicity: “Who cares? If you can’t read it, don’t…This isn’t english 101.”

And that’s a point I think many of us in traditional journalism have missed. We have leaped into the blogging “phenomenon” to ensure we are not left behind by the next best thing. We write staff blogs, news blogs, political commentary blogs and other essay collections that are only marginally different from the columns we once wrote in print. We also find great value in topical blogs for our professions. I launched this one after colleague Steve Yelvington told me I was invisible without a presence on the blogosphere.

As good as all that is, I don’t think basic bloggers like Fireman33 or Superjaybyrd would call it part of their world. And to imply it is so is offensive.

Fellow Cyberbrain Jeremy Littau gave me the perfect analogy: Two neighbors chat over the back fence when a journalist walks up and tries to get into the conversation. Could that be seen as anything less than obnoxious?

Guilt or not, I’ll keep blogging with my rough-and-tumble Fox crowd. But I think we need a new term to distinguish the party-line they participate in and the myriad soapboxes upon which we stand

September 16, 2007 - Posted by | Clyde Bentley

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