Style: When Taking A Side Is An Audition

Style Weekly’s Scott Bass has a little ditty this week that cherry picks from River City Rapids as an example of Jon Baliles readiness and presumed eagerness to take a job with Mayor Wilder’s press office. Because, clearly, if you support something you must be looking to get a job with that thing as well.

Where to begin…

Let’s start with the cherry picking. You grab four posts out of three and a half years of blogging and he’s begging for a job? You find four instances where Jon is supportive of the Mayor, one from Jan. 2005, the most recent from Oct. 2007, and this is supposed to be a feeler for employment?

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Scott’s onto something here. I mean, I wrote an awful lot about IHOP’s Free Pancake Day. Who wouldn’t want to be the spokesman for Free Pancake Day? I could be IHOP’s Jared, only instead of losing a ton of weight by eating their food I’d be the fat guy that became large and in charge thanks to IHOP and their all you can eat pancake special!

Second, minor, but Scott Bass wrote the article and the first quoted post happens to mention, wait for it… a Scott Bass article! Dear Scott, now that I have cited you and an article you wrote, can I expect a piece to be written about me quoting the time I wrote about you? Please? Maybe I can hook you up with free pancakes. (I jest.)

Third, I think Jon’s being honest when he says the offer surprised him and he really had to think about accepting it.

While there certainly are bloggers out there who blog hoping and praying that someone will see their work and hire them on the spot to do what they’ve been doing, many bloggers simply write because they care about something. Jon cares about Richmond and at times he has found himself in agreement with Mayor Wilder on how to exactly “care about Richmond”. But I’m pretty sure there’s more to Jon than just his blog. Just as there is more to any number of bloggers who have been offered professional jobs in fields they blogged about (Conaway HaskinsJohn Henke, and Shaun Kenney to name a few).

Style and Scott have a right to pick on Jon a bit. That’s fine. But it’d have been nice if they provided the full URL to River City Rapids in the article and provided Style readers an opportunity to visit RCR and see for themselves how much Jon cares not for Doug Wilder but for the City of Richmond and its people.

The coming crackdown on blogging

Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He’s one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. “The commission’s exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines” the campaign finance law’s purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Now, I was doing my usual “cut and paste” of the article and realized I was just about to pretty much post the whole thing, so go check it out yourself, very interesting stuff and certainly things that anyone that writes online needs to be aware of. But before your blood boils too much, keep in mind this part of the article (towards the end):

Then this is a partisan issue?
Yes, it is at this time. But I always point out that partisan splits tend to reflect ideology rather than party. I don’t think the Democratic commissioners are sitting around saying that the Internet is working to the advantage of the Republicans.

One of the reasons it’s a good time to (fix this) now is you don’t know who’s benefiting. Both the Democrats and Republicans used the Internet very effectively in the last campaign.

What would you like to see happen?
I’d like someone to say that unpaid activity over the Internet is not an expenditure or contribution, or at least activity done by regular Internet journals, to cover sites like CNET, Slate and Salon. Otherwise, it’s very likely that the Internet is going to be regulated, and the FEC and Congress will be inundated with e-mails saying, “How dare you do this!”

What happens next?
It’s going to be a battle, and if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, “Keep your hands off of this, and we’ll change the statute to make it clear,” then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger.

If Congress doesn’t change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?
We’re talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.

First, I give the guy a lot of credit for calling this partisan outright. He’s not hiding it and that’s good, that makes me think he’s trying to be honest with us about the issue and that’s what we need. It’s also probably him covering his ass, he knows there’ll be heat for this and he can limit this by not shrouding it as something else.

Second, he tells us outright a proper solution to the issue, get Congress to clear up the statute. So grassroots Internet activity has a means of keeping themselves in the clear, petition your representatives in Congress.

In the end, this is simply the FEC having to enforce laws given to them based on a judicial interpretation. They are simply doing their jobs. It’s just bad law.

Mike Saunders: Four Blogging Food Groups

Mike Sanders presents the Four Blogging Food Groups

1) Warblogging – characterized by taking a political position and holding some level of contempt for those with opposing opinions.

2) Techblogging – blogging by its very nature, sucks you in to the technical vortex. Whether you are pondering why blogger is down so often or how to use trackback in MT – you are a techblogger now.

3) Cheeseblogging – sooner or later you will reveal something about your personal life and about that cheese sandwich you had for lunch.

4) Miscblogging – all other blogging falls into this category. It is comparable to the essential minerals component of your diet.

Personally, I think Metablogging deserves its own food group as well. It was among the first uses of blogging and still predominates the medium. Yes, Warblogs have gotten huge and Techblogging is where you find many of the A-List bloggers, but Metablogging (pretty much the blogging of links like i do most of the time) still drives blogs more than anything else. Hell, everything else seems to be a subsection of that. Take Instapundit for instance. Yes, a Warblog, but a Metablog at its root.

Hmmm… Maybe Metablogging isn’t it’s own food group but makes up a whole chunk of the period pyramid? (I was in such a hurry I really messed that up).

More later, I have to go work.

The year 2000 saw the rebirth of a very old web idea, repackaged in some new technology, and unleashed as the weblog (or “blog” for short). The recipe for a weblog is simple: make a web page, a single page, and put microcontent (short blurbs and blips) on it. Then update it again and again, all day, every day, with the newest stuff always at the top.

Weblogs as community

Bloggers vs. Journalists

Now I’m not one to normally do this (“this” being posting this on my blog though I generally will talk about things a lot, just part of my problem where I can say something and have it make sense but when I sit to write it, blargh) but…

It is funny that I give much more credence to journalists over bloggers. I am not a journalist and I have always been highly skeptical of what I read in the newspaper. But I do believe they subscribe to a “search for truth” ethic well above the average person. 
– Mike Sanders

Eh, I have to disagree here. To a certain extent.

As Mike stated in his post on Keep Trying, “The increase in blogging makes available many more points of view. But the quick nature of blogging tends to make those opinions less thought out. So there is an increase of quantity with a decrease of quality, compared to say, journalism.” But this statement can be made about the web in general with the plethora of news sites out there who are still fighting to be considered legitimate news sources.

But whether the quality of a blogger’s work is comparable to that of a journalist all depends on what the blogger is trying to do. Are they attempting to report like any other journalist? Most blogs are there for opinions and journals, they’re more like the OpEd page of the newspaper. It’s a great way to see the point of view of folks on the inside of the situations you read about in the news. Whether it’s a Palenstinian talking about the events in the Middle East of a New Yorker right after the events of September 11th, you should expect an upclose and more personal view of these events, not what is news.

What journalists have to strive for is to sit outside and above it all and simply report the facts of the matter. This is the ideal, but that doesn’t really happen.

All journalists write for a paper (or station, or website, or magazine…) whos purpose is ultimately to make money. So these papers must strive to delight their market. If their market is mostly Arab-Americans, for example, then the paper would be stupid to publish articles that may possibly slant in favor of Israel, no matter what the facts are.

Does this present a better picture of events than a blog attempting to report these events would? Possibly, but that’s probably because it has more resources than anything else. The article will still be slanted because of the writer’s opinions and the editor’s opinions and the publisher’s opinion. When the article finally sees print, it has everyones’ fingerprints on it and may distort or leave out facts based on it’s own beliefs and agenda. Your news blogger will make the same mistakes only using the limited resources they have at hand (whether that be their own first hand experience, those of people around them or just what they dig up off of other sites). The agenda of your everyday blogger is simply to convey their emotions and thoughts at that particular moment. And while the facts may not be accurate, the emotions are as real as anything happening out there.

All in all, it just depends on what you want to read.