Blogs are OK, but little substitute for good journalism
Justin Mason’s Sept. 23 article about the limitations of blogging was right on the mark. Here’s another: Blogging takes work from professional writers.
In 2005, I suddenly began to receive requests to contribute to blogs. “What’s the pay?” I’d innocently ask, at first assuming it would be at least $1 a word, the rate for magazine articles for as long as I could remember.
“Pay? Blogs don’t pay!” was the answer.
Alas, I’d started a blog two years ago, for my leftover genetics ideas, just for fun, and to help promote a book. Then a few months ago I began regularly guest blogging for Scientific American, again to promote a book.
No pay, no editing (with the exception of rejection of my X-rated “If ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Had Been Written by a Biology Textbook Author”).
Fortunately it’s easy to correct blog errors — if you find them. A friend of mine recently misquoted a researcher in her blog, an inflammatory statement that an editor or fact-checker would have confirmed for a print publication. The repercussions of violating copyright and of libeling someone via blogging are still being worked out, according to various professional groups.
A few weeks ago, Public Library of Science (PLoS) offered me my own blog, “DNA Science: Genetics in Context,” on their well-trafficked site (it starts Sept. 27). The contract explicitly states that there’s no editing — and no pay. At about the same time, I got an assignment from the print Scientific American — and that contract explicitly states that the editors may totally rewrite the article (which is clear from how alike their articles are in tone). They also check every fact and call every source to confirm quotes.
I’ve slowly been sucked into the blogosphere, kicking and screaming at times as I’ve seen my writer friends struggle to get work because so many people do it for free. There’s also a bit of angst. I wouldn’t dream of waking up one day and deciding to practice plumbing or proctology — but many people think they can be engaging writers or hard-core journalists virtually overnight.
In a way, it belittles what we longtime journalists do. Without the editorial filter, many blogs, at least in science, just rehash old stuff. Famous writer Jonah Lehrer was recently canned from The New Yorker and Wired after he was found to have been recycling his blogs for years (and also making up Bob Dylan quotes in his ex-bestseller).
Despite all of the above, I think blogging has been a great way to get people engaged in sharing ideas and opinions — even if bloggers who don’t run ads don’t get paid.
The Gazette should run a blog about blogging.
Don’t stigmatize kids without dads at home
I just had to comment on the Sept. 21 picture, “Showing dad around,” on the front page.
It’s great that Mont Pleasant has a day for a parent to attend school with their child, but to call it “Dads, take your child to school” is wrong. Schools, especially, should be aware that a lot of children do not have a dad in their lives (or moms). This has to be troubling for them.
Why not call it, “Parents, take your child to school day”? Can you imagine how proud all the children would feel? I hope all schools take note of this.
C. Ann Wood
If Christ was married, it was only to Church
Jesus had a wife?
I hear on TV that some recently found document written several centuries after Christ was on earth mentions that Jesus made reference to his having a wife [Sept. 19 Gazette].
I wonder if that is being confused with the concept of the Church being the bride of Christ?
William W. Zimmer
Was Romney a member of disdained 47 percent?
Perhaps we’re being a little too harsh on Mitt Romney.
Maybe his resisting making public those additional income tax returns is that he was among the 47 percent who paid nothing those years, and he really does identify with them.
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