The No B.S. blog about Travel, Writing and Life

Old School Journalism

Yesterday, I sat with a dozen other travel writers, in a hip Melrose eatery, as we introduced ourselves, one by one, to share our credentials and current projects during a media lunch hosted by the San Juan Marriott (I mention them because I am a fan of San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Marriott.

As the chatter went around the room, the subject of blogging came up. One of the writer’s took the opportunity to express his disdain about blogging and bloggers, “…bloggers don’t know what they are talking about,” and went on to describe his traditional journalism background and old school ethics as being more important and reliable than people who blog. He then finished by saying, “I write articles!” I thought the guy was a self-important idiot, but it was not the first time I had heard these sentiments about blogging, especially from “old school” writers.

While I agree to an extent, Internet writing still has a ways to go before being taken more seriously – at least by traditional journalism types. There is no denying, blogging is unlikely to be going away any time soon and has already made a huge impact as highly immediate, topical and interactive writing. Personally, I wanted to defend blogging as a new form that will take time to develop, and many bloggers are strong, relevant writers already. Before I had a chance to mount my argument that would have disintegrated into name-calling, a handful of the other writers just booed him.

While I am pretty certain his shot at bloggers was intended to boost his ego or put down others, I actually felt a little sad for him. The Internet has changed publishing and how information gets shared, which is good – and bad to folks who prefer one system to another. This means that traditional magazine writers and journalists have to play catch up or get left behind. There are fewer and fewer avenues for longer feature stories in paper magazines – there are fewer paper magazines, period. We, as a society, are devouring more snappy headlines than multiple pages of thoughtful prose. So some traditional writers have had to jump in and start learning about keyword optimization and writing shorter articles geared toward a rapidly changing readership.

Some of us at the media lunch felt comfortable diving into the uncharted Internet waters years ago. Others waited and now sound like a droopy sack of sour grapes looking to take a shot at the new bloggers on the block. Next week, I will offer a few thoughts to consider before transitioning from magazine writer to Internet blogger without losing journalism while blogging. The truth is that writing will remain writing. Blogging is only a form of writing worth learning for a changing climate with little room for sour grapes.

6 Comments

  1. Strongly agree. Just as sure as digital cameras will replace film, digital media will mostly replace print, both, probably better for the environment. It’s evolution and we all have to change with the times.
    An aweful lot of old timers just don’t get it. They’ll be history.

    Now, the wife looked at me like I was crazy the other day when I paid $200 to renew newspaper delivery to my house. She knows I can read it free online. Well, I’m an old timer who likes my newspaper and coffee and smokes in the morning without squinting at a damn computer monitor. And I still have my film camera stuffed away somewhere wishing film would make a comeback but, know it won’t. Someday, I’ll be history, too!

  2. Oh, you are so right. I’m glad I found your site, as I am just starting to write about this on a site I will be launching soon.

    I am not a “travel writer”, per se. I come from a marketing and education background, but I do travel often and have begun to blog about it. I think it is fascinating how the landscape is changing. People still love to read about travel, but the medium has changed. Online reading behavior is completely different than print reading, and the people reading it are not the same as those reading The Atlantic.

    While there are bloggers who are perfectly capable of stringing adjectives together to write 3000 word pieces, there is an opportunity for those who can write copy that is more web friendly. Taking advantage of it doesn’t make us bad writers, it makes us smart.

    I think there is room for all kinds of travel writing, and wish the old school (really, just snobbery) would see it that way. In my opinion, creating a platform for yourself that you control, is better than being at the mercy of editors anyway.

    I’m glad you put this out there.

    Debbie Ferm

  3. Hey Mike,

    As a budding non-professional photographer for the last ten years, I almost cried at the prospect of going digital — I eventually did and now love my digital camera. I get the idea of kicking and screaming as my familiar favorites get replaced by progress. Although I will say your last line is a little ominous, but I guess true for all of us.
    .-= Devin Galaudet´s last blog ..My Top 10 Places I Need to Travel, What’s Yours? =-.

  4. Hi Debbie,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I do believe that blogging is an essential part for any modern self-promotion and should be taken advantage of. I was recently speaking with a literary agent whose first question was, do you blog? Those that don’t, or can’t, or won’t, are at a disadvantage.

    At the same time, we do read differently online (there are studies on the subject and some rules to be aware of). A friend writes a blog and each article is 3000 words. As a reader, all those words and teeny two-point font make her good writing a chore. Of course, I am never put off by a 1000-page book.

    Do let us know the url of your blog.
    devin
    .-= Devin Galaudet´s last blog ..My Top Ten Places I Need to Travel to Again, What’s Yours? =-.

  5. Hey Devin,
    Great article. I so want to jump into blogging, but I’m afraid to start until I am sure I have the time to stick to it … plus I’m a little afraid of the technology. This story is another small nudge for me. Thanks.

  6. Thanks Edwin,

    The good news is that the technology is something you can learn quickly and it keeps getting more intuitive. As far as sticking to blogging, you should. I suggest having several months worth of material in advance that you can pull out when needed and when new blog post inspiration doesn’t come. Let me know when you take the plunge.
    .-= Devin Galaudet´s last blog ..$45 for Carry-ons? Boycott Spirit Airlines Now =-.

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