I’m particularly fond of Robin’s analogy:
I think a blog at its best is a dinner party, and if you are the guy who shouts me down whenever I rise to speak, who questions my very motives for throwing this party in the first place: you are not invited.
Now, happily, it’s a special kind of dinner party. Anyone can listen in, and the front door is ajar. Come to think of it, there’s probably always an extra place set, Elijah-style. But even so: it’s a space that belongs to its authors, and they set its rules. Maybe that’s easier said than done when you’re blogging about the Tea Party… but I don’t know. There’s this little red delete button next to every comment here on the WordPress admin screen, and it’s pretty easy to click.
Interestingly enough, some of the best blogs/bloggers don’t have comments turned on and it feels like there’s a general trend to move in that direction. But the entire original point of blogging, it seems, has shifted.
Where once they were sharing links/news/interesting things, writing commentary and having conversations (not unlike, say, the proprietor of a local townie bar), it’s moved towards this dialectic for journalistic respectability. Some bloggers are journalists and some are not; some journalists are bloggers and some are not. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round.
Cultivation is half the fun, but then being able to discuss it, whether pleasant or vitriolic, is the other half.
Here’s the graph that really stands out for me, regarding Ambinder’s post:
I loved the freedom to write about whatever I wished, but I missed the discipline of learning to write about what needed to be written. I loved the light editorial touch of blogging , but I missed the heavy hand of an editor who tells you when something sucks and tells you to go back and rewrite it. I have gotten much more guidance in the past year from Bob Cohn and J.J. Gould, and, of course, my magazine articles are subjected to rigorous editing. James Bennet probably trusted my own instincts more than he should have early on, and I am forever grateful that he did. But now I’ll have someone telling me on a daily basis what I’m doing right, and what I am doing wrong. This will be a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a writer and a reporter.
Though many ego-driven writers would loath to admit this, the best writing, blogging and journalism is a collaborative exercise. Whether the collaboration is between editor and writer or audience and blogger, the act of composing sentences to convey something meaningful is not a solo endeavor.