Yes, But Is It a Blog?

(I’ve updated this entry to include a ping and link to Kelley’s – suburbanblight.net – entry made tonight, 10/06/04, on the same subject. She says it all, and better. Very nice to know I’m not the only who’s annoyed by this phenomenon.)

(this is a cross-post from my personal blog, but it made sense to put it here because I single out two news organizations based right here in the ATL.)

The AJC has them.

So does CNN.

But are they weblogs? In the true sense of what that word has come to mean?

What has it come to mean? Here’s part of what wikipedia says:

A weblog, or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage. Such a web site would typically be accessible to any Internet user.

The full wiki article on blogs can be found here.

That definition doesn’t necessarily answer my question. I guess I’m not clear on the definition still – in my mind it’s one thing, however the AJC and CNN blogs – and that’s just two examples of media outlets sponsoring weblogs – seem to indicate it’s another.

There was a joke made in the press during the faked documents debacle at CBS that the bloggers who assisted in blowing the thing wide open were a ‘bunch of guys in pajamas’ who couldn’t be taken seriously. Then I start noticing news outlets like the ones above have their reporters writing in blogs. If you read the CNN blog I linked it truly is a kind of bloggy format, with Miles O’Brien making short little notes over the course of a morning.

The review of the production of Carmen that I was recently part of is on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Critic’s Blog. It is definitely set up in classic weblog format, with generous room for reader comments. When I found that my initial reaction was surprise, and I was pleased. Pleased that people could comment, that something like an arts review was put into a form that made it open for public discussion. Seems fair, to me.

Then I started noticing how many other places now have blogs. And I ask you, are these truly blogs? Miles O’ Brien sure ain’t a dude in pajamas out there bird-dogging Spaceship One. I seriously doubt Pierre Ruhe, the critic who panned Carmen, was blogging from home in his satin Pierre Cardin (with ‘Cardin’ scratched out and ‘Ruhe’ written above it in laundry pen on the tag,) pajamas, pipe in hand.

I am also sure these guys didn’t scramble to find a host, pay the hosting fee out of pocket, tear their hair out installing the publishing software, and have to put up with comment spam once they were done.

I think what’s bothering me is this – it’s like the first time I heard a newscaster say, in reporting a story, that someone “dissed” someone else. The sheer wrongness of that slang slipped in the middle of an otherwise serious news report was just jarring. I wanted to say, no, dude, keep to what you do best, write the news in AP style, do your inverted pyramid thang, and dammit, sound like you’re not concerned with being cool, you’re concerned with reporting the effing news. That’s how I’m starting to feel about media giants like CNN and the AJC having their reporters “blog.”

As a teen I never had the awful experience of either of my parents trying to show how HIP they were with the kids. My Dad never started wearing his deck shoes without socks and sporting Polo shirts – he had a big problem with logos anyway – and my Mom didn’t start tossing out phrases like “gag me with a spoon.” (You are hereby reminded I’m a child of the 80’s, hence the 80’s teen references.) Nope, they stayed my parents. Stuck in a limbo somewhere between 1956 and maybe 1980, and they did the business of parenting. They didn’t give a damn if they were cool. And in retrospect, I absolutely love them for it. I needed parents, not buddies.

Seeing these major news outlets highlighting “blogs” by reporters on their front pages makes me imagine a kid watching his Mom and Dad on the dance floor at a drunken wedding party, trying to robot and lock n pop…can you imagine the horror? Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

I don’t think I want CNN to blog. Or the AJC, after all.

Leave it to the guys and gals in pajamas, why dontcha?

(the preceding was written at home on my crappy e-machine, but I am wearing khakis and a short sleeved shirt. No pajamas.)

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