Sunday, September 9, 2007

lobster and scrimp: a reply to Josh Cohen

To the editor:

First! Nullus.

As a former writer for Phoenix as well as an incredibly amateur blogger, I was very confused by Josh Cohen's article last week. Based on the title, I was hoping to read about the supposedly potential threat many journalists feel from blogging, where people who report on news firsthand are no longer as valued as those who tag articles they feel their readership will enjoy. Instead, what I read was something that felt like the very thing Mr. Cohen was raving against in the first place: blogging to Be Heard. Many of the ideas/problems that he claims blogging to stand upon could also be argued to be prevalent in normal opinion writing for a newspaper. There are many things I have read in the Phoenix in my time here that could be considered intentionally contrary, and I imagine to some I have been the writer of some of those columns. The whole point of opinion writing, in my estimation, is that you want to be heard in some way; that is why you are making your thoughts available to public criticism. The idea that writing for a newspaper is somehow nobler than my cute little blog assumes that the Phoenix is some pillar of excellence in journalism and that people who keep blogs do so because they cannot hang with the big boys who work with paper. Frankly, this is a pretty elitist view.

One of the joys of blogging for me, besides the piles of ducats, is that there is no pressure to always come up with something groundbreaking or profound every two or three weeks. I can post links to articles I have read or old rap videos I used to love. I am not confined to a box of constant "serious" or "mature" commentary that involves politics or social issues. It allows my admittedly small readership to see the full scope of who I am and to have a conversation with me about things I enjoy. Also, Mr. Cohen's complaint of constant commentary struck me as odd because when I wrote for the Phoenix, there were days that were filled with constant, short opinions shared by people after reading my column as well as emails. The difference with blogging is only that these conversations, held in person when I wrote for paper, are now just words underneath a post. I will say my one complaint about blogging is that comments seem very impersonal and stripped of context on the internet(s). However, to say all Swatties left my column thinking, "I agree here... I am skeptical of this point..." is a bit of a stretch. I am surprised Mr. Cohen did not take advantage of the ability to delete offensive or unproductive comments, though this could be seen as a bit of a dick move. I also find it interesting that while Mr. Cohen rails against the form, he seemed to enjoy using footnotes a great deal, though it makes following a column quite difficult. Of course, he could be doing this as a satire, and I am just a dense fruit fly. It just seemed very self-serving.

Kudos to the editor for completely contradicting Mr. Cohen right beneath his column by encouraging people to write for the sake of being heard. And for those interested, peep the manuscript every so often right here.

Keep schemin' and dreamin', snappin' and trappin'.

No comments: