Monday, October 12, 2009

Blogging As A Form Of Journalism

During high school, I went through a stage where I wanted to be a journalist. I belonged to the journalism club and everywhere I went, my notebook and pen went with me, and I learned to observe things. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where current events, politics, religion, art, music, philosophy and literature were discussed at length every day. My father subscribed to several newspapers and magazines -- Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, and he and my mother had a wonderful library of books available for my brothers and me to read. One of my favorite books was "The England of Elizabeth" by A.L. Rowse. The book described life in Elizabethan England, from the lowest classes to the Monarch. Elizabethans invented some wonderful recipes that are still used today, including meat and cheese pies and pastries.

Blogging seems to have taken off as a form of journalism. Blogs vary from personal journals of folks' day-to-day lives, interests, hobbies, etc. Blogging gives us the opportunity for creative freedom and interaction with people from all over the world. With the mainstream media becoming more questionable and biased in their reporting of news, bloggers are making their voices heard.

Two years ago a man named Robert Dziekanski was tasered to death by the R.C.M.P. at Vancouver Airport. They hit him with the taser four times. The entire incident was videotaped by a young man named Paul Pritchard. The R.C.M.P. confiscated Pritchard's camera, but Pritchard hired a lawyer and two days later the R.C.M.P. were forced to return it. Pritchard released the horrifying video to the public, where it quickly made its way to the blogs. The R.C.M.P. were unable to cover up their misdeed, and this month the Braidwood Enquiry is concluding its investigation of the incident. Without Pritchard's video, the R.C.M.P. would have made the whole thing quietly go away, and indeed several of the R.C.M.P. officers were found to have lied about it.

Never before in history have ordinary citizens been able to have their voices heard in such a manner. It is an amazing phenomenon. My boring-little-blog is what might be called a "slice of life". There is no recurrent theme, and I post about whatever happens to be going through my mind on any particular day. I do, occasionally however, like to post about things of which I have a strong opinion. And anyone who knows me, knows I do sometimes tend to have strong opinions. I'm not always right -- in fact very often I am wrong. But, if I think something is bunkum, I will say so. And I cherish other people who feel just as strongly about their opinions, and feel free to disagree with me. To me, the most dangerous people of all are the ones who have no opinions whatsoever, and often they called upon to make tie-breaking decisions, such as in the work place or in the voting booth. As Voltaire said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

He also said, "I hate women because they always know where things are." It seems he had a sense of humor.

Blogging has become a forum where people can discuss anything and everything, and I think that's wonderful. The one thing I have learned is that no matter what part of the world we are from, and how different we are, we are all the same. People can agree, disagree -- whatever -- but we should never, ever stop the conversation. Keep it going, and keep it honest.


greenpanda said...

Now I like this. Really good post. It's so good the video was released, I think things like that (altho obv not on that scale) happen too often.
Think I might swipe the Voltaire quote. :D

Alissa said...

I think blogs and the internet in general have gone a long way toward leveling the playing field. Access to the internet gives ordinary people the chance to be much more well-informed and it also gives people the chance to share what they know with the world.

The Bug said...

What - YOU have strong opinions? Really? Heh. I love coming to your blog to see what's on your mind on a given day - albeit with a certain amount of fear & trembling because we don't always agree. But you're so fun!

I agree that we have a lot more access to information these days. We just need to make sure that we're using good sources...

Deb said...

good blog is my way of being a journalist...I pass on things and stories I enjoy...and get to feel like I'm a writer and really is fun plus I enjoy reading others stories and tales and seeing photos..

Kathryn said...

First off, i don't consider your blog boring! I really appreciate all that you have to say. Of course it helps that i usually agree, but that is another matter.

I agree with Alissa that blogs have gone a long way to level the playing field. But i think they have an inherent danger (those of us who do not trust our gov't believe that they can be greatly misused). And, with all the corrupt politics occurring, we need something to help us maintain our rights!

My blog is similar to yours, Jo, in that i write about whatever is going on or i want to write about, but not nearly as interesting.

I'm so glad the footage of the tasering came out. Similar to the Rodney King incident. The folks may not have been innocents but they didn't deserve what happened to them. I'm glad it is easier to make these things known.

Nancy said...

Very good points, and I totally agree with you. We have power in the blogworld, our writing has power. Best to use it wisely. And sometimes that means standing up for wht we feel is right.


Yes, all that you wrote about is so true. The blog (or actually Weblog as it was originally called) has afforded me so much pleasure, and also a chance to share my ideas on budgeting; recipes - my poetry, and even create a tribute to my mom and family with pictures and little stories about them.

I also started one for those we remember; who've passed on - pictures and memories. By adding music to all my blogs, I feel that if anyone visited and was bored, they might at least like the music.

I met an author via his web-site; now we've become good cyber-buddies, and I've even ordered one of his books direct.

I've met several artists; I've become corresponding friends with them and have bought some of their artwork as well.

I've met some who do crafts; again, buying directly from them.

One person lives not that far away from me; she and I met via the web - now we are personal friends as well as cyber-buddies.

I love Google books; reading books 'on-line' - very nice when you can't find a copy that's no longer being printed.

We have an international world to correspond with; an artist who lives in France writes me and I see his latest art-work from his web-site.

I have two friends who are photographers; they live in Holland.

I even helped a young lady who lives in Malaysia improve her piano skills as we wrote back and forth about her problems with certain aspects of playing, and I could counsel her as well as suggest books for her, that would help her also.

I adopted a small church in the Philippines - adopted meaning I send them money for special events and gifts at Christmas.

I now support a small safe house for children in Big Rapids, South Dakota - again, learning about their need on local television and finding a web-site that ultimately led me to the individual who manages the safe-house. I learned what they needed; what we can do to keep adding funds to support them - all via the I-net.

I helped counsel a young man in the Philippines when he was trying to get a job with an American company who has a division in Manila, and I knew the company and was able to tell him what they were like to work for; their position in the marketplace, and then I reviewed his resume he sent to me - I revised it, and told him how to properly interview for the job.

This past week-end he sent me a thank you note; it's been one year since he got the job, and he's had two promotions.

Sadly, the Philippines have been recently hit so hard with the typhoons; they're enduring mud-slides - loss of their rice crops, and because of the I-net and my friends there, I'm able to know what to send to them that adds to what is already being done by our own country and the Red Cross.

We're certainly able to learn more about the world; the people, and they become our 'cyber-neighbors'; we now can actually have empathy and understanding for them on a much more realistic and personal basis.

Just as I've learned about your grandson's interest in hockey; your interest, and have shared links with you and hockey scores via e-mail, we all end up being much more close in our friendships even though we're miles away from each other.

I'm just glad I took typing in high school; the one thing that the I-net guarantees is that more people will learn to type and how to spell - how to construct sentences, and how to interact with courtesy and understanding.

It is a marvelous boon to mankind - the I-net.

I'm sure the next generation will find even more uses for the I-net; the I-net will probably offer new features and functions, and I like that I can visit 'all over the world' and see photographs as well as read history that would be very difficult to find in a book.

We save a lot of miles by not having to drive to the library; not having to seek out art galleries, and enjoy the freedom to educate ourselves.

Bagman and Butler said...

I majored in journalism and started a career as a newspaper reporter but soured on it. But I always kept a journal. Now instead of a notebook, it is a blog. There is certainly more variety now...the challenge is finding quality or whatever we are looking for within the millions and millions of words.

TC said...

Thank you for calling my blogs journalism. I feel as you do toward what is journalism.
The taser incident. A horrible thing that we have had go on @ home where a man fell to his death from a bridge after being tasered and a younger man just died after being tasered during a routine traffic stop and he refused to cooperate.

AND you reminded me of two things I wanted to write about, a dog case in Lake Charles and a police brutality case in Beaumont.

Lindsey said...

Hehe I wanted to be a journalist for a long time, but I've decided that I'm going to be an English major. Interesting story, very sad. :'(
Your posts are wonderful, I really enjoy reading what you have to say. You're really a very good writer if you ask me. I hope maybe someday my writing can be as interesting as yours, but I'm only 18 so I suppose I just sound whiny and annoying.
Haha you're great, really! ;)

Brenda said...

Blogging is fun because there is so much variety out there. Just not enough time to read them all!

Anonymous said...

Even though I love to read a paper newspaper together with a cup of tea, while hearing a piece of Haydn, realised how much 'momentum' a blog can have, provide or/and demand.
Seems as if there is a 'majority of two' that keeps life as interesting as it is.
A wonderful week for you.

Deedee said...

Exactly right, Jo- we bloggers are frustrated jounalists, poets, fiction writers and so on. Your blog is always interesting and thought provoking. It's wonderful to be able to express ourselves and also read about other opinions too.

JeannetteLS said...

Well, put, as usual. I'm sorry, but I would not call yours a "boring little blog." If it is, then I happily have a boring little mind. I know mine is memoir, not journalism, but this is why I try to follow different styles of blogs--journalistic, art, photography, commentary. All of the blogs I follow also seem to support that very old-fashioned virtue of "civility." There are conversations, not brawls. Thank you for your blog, Jo.

lovelyprism said...

Well said. Not only are blogs entertaining but they do seem to be taking a huge role in actual news lately. It IS an interesting phenomenon!

kenju said...


Firefly said...

You have what is probably the most versatile blog that I follow. You talk about anything and everything and often say it as you see it. And that is why I always comeback.

As for myself. I may not do news, but I believe that I do my bit with my pics.

ivan said...

Yeah. That apposite quote by Old Voltaire. Some cookie monster, no?... Mentioned in my Western Thought classes... Volaire,exiled to London, had become fond of the English Philosopher John Locke.

On this particular week in college, we were studying both Alexander Pope and his Rape of the Lock poem and Voltaire and his penchant for John Locke.

Some wag, noting the Catholic/Protestant troubles in Voltaire's time, quipped,very nearly emulating Voltaire, "Yeah. Locke's Rape of the Pope."

PhilipH said...

Right on, Jo.

It's more than just blogging imo. It is a hobby; a pastime; a craft.

All made possible by the magic of the web. The web, initially set up for defence and military reasons has exploded like a nuclear bomb and spread its tentacles everywhere almost. It is, however, a tool for both good and evil.

It is virtually uncensored and uncontrollable at present. There are some vile and nasty aspects to the web which we abhor; much like life I guess.

The good parts far outweigh the bad and dangerous parts thank goodness. And there's no going back!

Pauline said...

I just read a news article that encourages blogging, twittering and FaceBooking as part of one's digital resume, and that employers get online to see what kind of person you come across as in these mediums. "Watch what you say and how you say it," is the advice...

Jo said...

Stephen, yes, that video changed the whole course of the investigation. I was ashamed of the R.C.M.P.

Alissa, oh, definitely! Ordinary people are able to keep politicans' feet to the fire, in almost every country.

The Bug, oh, yes, good sources are important. Often the source is the individual himself, as in the case of the fellow who took the video of the fellow being tasered. Thank goodness he did!

Deb, yes, having the opportunity to not only be a journalist but a photojournalist as well, is fun, isn't it? I enjoy seeing other peoples' photos and reading about their lives.

Kathryn, yes, I think the blogs have been a huge voice, and unfortunately some politicans have used them to their advantage.

The fellow who was tasered at Vancouver Airport was just a visitor from Poland, and he was upset because he could not find his mother. It's a very sad story.

Nancy, well, sometimes I am a bit afraid to voice my opinions, but often they are not "popular" so it does take a bit of courage sometimes.

Diane, you amaze me. I often think you have more energy than any five other people. How on earth do you do it? When I visit your blog, I never know which one to read first, you have so many, and you do so many fabulous things. What is your secret!? :-)

Bagman and Butler, that's the thing, isn't it? Sometimes it becomes overwhelming, but there are so MANY interesting people out there. Who knew!?

TC, I don't understand why tasers have not been completely banned, and yet people can actually buy personal tasers at "taser parties" sort of like Tupperware parties. Egads!

Lindsey, thank you! Gosh! I hope you get into the university of your choice, and study and learn, and have a wonderful career! I have a feeling you will. :-)

Brenda, I know! I wish I had the time to visit all the blogs I would like to visit every day!

Robert, I love listening to Haydn while I am reading too. And yes, there is nothing like a "good, old-fashioned" newspaper.

DeeDee, thank you! Your blog is always intersting too, and I wish I had time to visit all my favorite bloggers more often. *sigh*

Jeanette, I am always amazed when such interesting folks as you visit my blog. It's always an honor to me to see your comments. :-)

Lovelyprism, yes, I think most bloggers are honest, and "tell it like it is". You haven't been doing much blogging lately?

Kenju, thank you!! :-)

Firefly, I love visiting your blog, and seeing photographs of all the places my mother talked about. It's wonderful!

Ivan, how do you know all this stuff? *heh, heh*

Philip, yes, as with anything, there is the good and the bad. But I think it would be a terrible state of affairs if it were to be censored. It is sort of self-censoring in a way, if people keep it honest.

Pauline, yes, it's incredible some of the stuff people put out there on the Internet -- really person things -- that just boggles the mind. It never goes away, and often can come back to haunt them.

Rose said...

Hear, hear!! I've wanted to be a journo forever too...and that's why blogging is such a revelation to me now..bless Jo - I missed reading your blog - but I'm back now :)

ivan said...


I'd walk a mile to set up a punch line. :)

Paula Slade said...

Bravo! Well said Jo!

TomCat said...

Since I know what brought this on, I'll let the {{ahem}} cat out of the bag. Josie posted a comment at my blog. I disagree with her on that subject, but that's OK. Another reader commented that, since she is Canadian, she should keep her opinion to herself. As soon as I saw it, I chewed him out, politely, explaining that I wasn't saying he couldn't disagree with her position, but in doing so, he had to treat her with respect. I guess he decided that respect in the face of disagreement was too big a burden and replied that he would not return.

My policy has always been that all views are welcome as long as all participants are treated with respect. That I agreed with his position and not with Josie's doesn't matter. If we want to influence people, insulting them will never accomplish that feat.

Anyway, isn't Josie so gorgeous that we should agree with her out of pure bedazzlement? ;-)

Jo said...

Rose, I'm glad you're back. :-) Blogging is incredibly interesting, isn't it?

Ian, *heh, heh*

Paula, thank you. That is a compliment coming from you!

TomCat, thank you :::blush:::. You know I had the same thing happen to me a couple of times, and it shocked me. It seems the U.S. has become so polarized, people shout each other down. It's very sad.

Marguerite said...

You would still make a fantastic journalist, Jo! You are such a talented writer and artist that you should get paid for your writing and your paintings! And your blog is fab!

nomore said...

Blogging is the simple things to comunicate with the heaven and world wide person to person guess..

TomCat said...

You're welcome, Josie. When Obama took office, I think that Democrats expected Republicans to act like the minority party... the loyal opposition. I'm sure you remember that well before the election I tried to warn folks that bipartisanship was impossible, because Republicans (the politicians and pundits not the rank and file)would not compromise the way Democrats did when we were the minority party. The people of this country voted for change. When the people who worked so hard for change see Republicans using every lie and dirty trick in the book to obstruct that change they get mad. Sometimes they misdirect that anger toward people like you or Obama, instead of at the people who deserve it. The Republican politicians and pundits.

Land of shimp said...

Long ago my friend told me that her mother, a rather flaky sort, and not someone necessarily suited to being a mother, took her on "Magical Mystery Tours." as a child. Her mom wasn't the sort to make sure there was clean laundry, or even that the fridge had much in it beyond frozen pizza, but she definitely had her strong suits as a mom. She made my friend see interest in some many things.

Her mom would take her to places like the botanical gardens on these tours, and make up stories about the flowers. Where my friend's mom lacked in certain areas, she made up for them in others.

Blogs are like those tours. Whenever I sit down for a bit of blog reading, I have no idea where it will take me, or the stories I'll read.

I get to visit lives in countries I've only ever read about. Sometimes things that need my attention are brought up in blogs. Blogs can do a tremendous amount of good, and they help people participate on more than one level.

By the way, never would have guessed you were opinionated. Never. *swats at swiftly lengthening nose* Comes as a complete shock.

Oh, all right, there may have been the odd clue, here...there...possibly everywhere ;-)

Jo said...

Marguerite, my goodness, thank you! I love both writing and painting. :-)

Nomore, yes, I love communicating with people throughout the world.

TomCat, yes, gosh, the U.S. seems to be so polarized now, people cannot speak their minds anymore. People are taking away their own freedoms!

Alane, "Blogs are like those tours. Whenever I sit down for a bit of blog reading, I have no idea where it will take me, or the stories I'll read." Oh, yes, it's wonderful, isn't it?

Your friend's mother sounded fabulous, by the way. Dirty houses, dishes and laundry can wait sometimes. There are more important things in life...!

Alicia said...

Here, here! I totally agree with everything you've said except with calling your blog boring! It's anything but! I love it and love how you have so many different topics to discuss.

Keep sharing and caring, cause I love your blog! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for following my humble little blog.

Vicki DeArmey said...

I definitely want to keep up with your blog. As I scrolled down over your entries there seem to be alot of interesting things to read about.
This last one on the two young girls that were kidnapped and abused has been something I have been following and am amazed like many other people how these young girls, now grown women, have risen above the horrible things that were forced on them. Yes, love, faith, and strong family ties can help bring someone back to a fairly normal life if that person is responsive to those things. I am happy for these girls but I do not think they are out of the woods yet, but I do have faith that one day they will be able to move ahead and live very normal lives, especially Jaycee.
I have a private blog that I started last year when I started following Julia Camerons urging to do Morning Pages. You see, when I was growing up I lived with a very strict, authoritative father and we did not have the privilege of speaking our minds or even discussing our own personal opinions on any subject,so this is something that has taken me years to overcome. I have always been afraid to express myself because I was fearful of being rejected for what I had to say. As you can see I have made some progress. I love to comment on pictures that are posted on Facebook. They make me respond to what I see and sometimes I can be a bit sarcastic and have to be careful what I write. It is in no way to directly make fun of the person or persons in the picture, but sometimes a picture just triggers a spontaneous response and I just write it. Most of the time my comments are complimentary, or funny, but once in a while the dark side of me comes out. Well, I am looking forward to reading your entries and seeing what you have to say.