Ah hem. I think I’ll be calling it the “beastly internet” from now on.
The quote comes from The Observer where there’s a smart and interesting opinion piece by Jay Rayner on the differences between blog v newspaper critics, which basically comes down on the side of saying they both have their place. However, while the article talks about the diversity and varying standards of bloggery, it doesn’t mention that there are professional old-media critics who do not have the thirty years of knowledge and expertise of the critics interviewed for the article.
For instance, I cannot read a certain critic who writes the science fiction column for a certain newspaper because I know more about the subject than they do. Now admittedly I was a scholar of science fiction, and have two books on the subject, but frankly most average science fiction readers have a better knowledge base than that critic. There are hundreds of blogs out there that do a much better job of covering contemporary science fiction. Possibly thousands.
Moving away from critics for the moment, my biggest problem with journalism is that almost every time I know anything about the subject being covered it gets stuff wrong. Coverage of the young adult publishing boom has been astonishingly wrong-headed and stupid. The few journalists who’ve approached me for comments have asked questions so far off base that it was impossible to engage. I’d explain the wrong-headedness and they’d say, “Um, sure, but I’m on a deadline so could you tell me how you really wish you wrote adult books?”
Sigh. Old media is not a haven from bad writing and shoddy research. I approach it as a reader the same way I approach blogs: if the writer knows what they’re talking about and writes well, I read them. If they don’t, I don’t. I do read Josh Micah Marshall; I don’t read Maureen Dowd. I do read Bob Herbert; I don’t read Michelle Malkin. Kathi Maio is one of my favourite writers on film and the gofugyourself girls my favourites on fashion (even though they are frequently wrong about what’s fab). I often prefer Crikey to the Sydney Morning Herald. My favourite book reporting comes from the ABC’s Book Show. It’s a big ole mess of new and old media.
The article does mention one of the main pleasures of blogging: that it is amateur.
In my case doubly amateur: I blog because I love it and I do it without being paid. As it happens, I have been asked to review for some newspapers and various genre publications. I have said no because—despite the wider exposure—I wouldn’t enjoy it. There are enough deadlines in my life, thank you very much. Also I have zero interest in conforming to house style and curbing or expanding my word count.
On my own blog I can crap on about a given book or movie or whatever for as long or as little as I like. I can be as shallow or as deep as I want. I is the only boss of this blog. No one tells me what to write or how.
I can also introduce paragraph breaks whenever I want.
And that’s the way I like it.