Blog 'em if you got 'em

An Associated Press story has made the rounds recently about how blogging can have dire consequences on one’s personal and professional life. The article said blogs are resulting in:

” … a growing trend in which frank outpourings online are causing personal and public dramas, often taking on a life they wouldn’t have if the web had not come along and turned individuals into publishers.”

Noted in the story was how prospective employers might type your name into Google and find your deepest, darkest secrets and fantasies or rants or whatever. The article also quoted a study from Pew Research Center saying almost 80 percent of younger people said they need to be more careful in giving out personal information on the Web.

All of which is to say some important points are to be made. First of all, don’t put anything anywhere on the Web that you don’t want someone else to see. This includes mistakes. I remember a stupid mistake I made on a story I wrote a year or so ago. While its correction was in the paper the next day, it is nowhere to be found on the Web, so forever more that error is there for the duration.

And you have to be mindful of consequences that your writing might have on your future. If you are a 20-year-old prelaw student and you write that the First Amendment should be abolished, don’t think you are going to get a very easy time in confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court 30 years later. You also may be writing about your love interest at the time, or allude to certain amorous activity, only to have this cause you a limitless amount of bitching and nagging and whining from future wives or husbands down the road.

With that said I think the article and others like it I have seen strikes a defensive tone with respect to blogs. Blogging is becoming a force in journalism and is getting no small amount of press. For instance the current Texas Monthly features Nathan Nance, with whom I worked at a certain newspaper we won’t name, and whose blog CommonSense is on my blogroll. Sorry, the link only gives a portion of the story. If you want to read the entire story you’ll just have to fork over the cash like I did.

But I think some in the news media are quite put out at blogging. I’m not saying the person who wrote the AP story had any particular bias but it does, to me at least, reflect the tone some in the news business have. Having recently come from working at a newspaper, I think I know in part why that is.

First, blogs have limited quality control. The readers are really it. At my last newspaper I had my copy go through as many as four editors before it got published. (And I can still see that stupid error on the Web today, yes I know.)Also the level of accountability is different between mainstream media and blogging. I mean, you really can say about anything you want to about anything on a blog. It may be wrong. It may be libelous. It may be incredibly stupid. And, with certain exceptions, there might just be nothing that anyone can do about it except stop reading it.

I think these same reasons also reflect a jealousy on the part of some in the media. I know I was jealous of bloggers being able to spew forth their opinions while I had to remain tight-lipped. I still have to watch my pees and kews because I don’t know who I might be freelancing for down the road.

But at the present time I am enjoying the freedom to pontificate, or be silly or weird or whatever I want to be. It is the ability to express yourself in many, many ways that attracted me to writing years ago and I feel fortunate to have made a living off it for almost two decades. Blogging is just another tool for self-expression. The only difference is practically anyone can see it.

So, yeah, watch out for the man. But say what you want to say and have fun.

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