Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Blogging vs. TV and newspaper commentary

April 10, 2018

An old friend of mine made this comment on a previous blog post—

I have a question for regular readers of this blog. Do you have any theories about why we can’t get commentary like Phil’s on TV, or in the New York Times–let alone on Fox News? Respectfully, Steve Badrich, San Antonio, Texas.

To begin with, my friend gives me much too much credit.  Unlike when I worked on a newspaper, I do very little original reporting.

Most of what I write is based on facts and ideas I find on other, better blogs and on-line news sites. The best thing about many of my posts is my links to those blogs and news sites.  Go far enough upstream from those blogs and news sites, and you find the ultimate sources are in traditional journalism.

Blogging is very different from reporting, or even writing a newspaper column or appearing as a guest commentator on TV, which I have done.  As a reporter, I was accountable to an editor for being fair and accurate.   Editors were accountable to a publisher for producing a product that would appeal to readers and bring in advertising.

This discipline improved the quality of what I wrote, but it also made me think twice about going against conventional opinion.  When I wrote something, for example, that reflected favorable on Eastman Kodak Co., my community’s largest employer, it was accepted without question.  When I wrote something that Kodak executives didn’t like, I was usually called in to justify myself.

I usually was able to justify myself.  I was fortunate to have editors that stood behind reporters when they were right.  But the further my writing went deviated accepted opinion or the wishes of the powers that be (which was never very far), the higher the bar for justifying myself.  I was surrounded not by a barrier, but by a hill whose steepness increased the further I went.

As a blogger, I am not accountable to anyone except myself.   I don’t have to meet anybody’s standards of fairness and accuracy except my own.  No gatekeeper asks me to justify my conclusion, whether orthodox or unorthodox.

I am as free as anybody gets to be in 21st century America.  I am retired, and I’m not in the job market.  I have good medical insurance and a sufficient income for my needs and desires, which many people don’t.  I don’t belong to any organizations, associations or cliques that would kick me out because of my opinions.

If these things didn’t apply, I wouldn’t feel free to post under my own name, and I’d be more cautious about what I did say.

Since, in practice, I enjoy a greater amount of freedom of expression than many people do, I have a right and responsibility to exercise it.


My first five years as a blogger

January 20, 2015

Today is the fifth anniversary of my starting this web log.

I’m grateful to my good friend David Damico for pointing out that it’s possible to do a blog on a web host such as WordPress without paying any money and without any particular knowledge of computers and the Internet.  If not for him, I might not ever have started a blog.  If I had known what he told me earlier, I might have started this blog years ago.

blogID-10088265When I retired from newspaper work, people asked me if I planned to continue writing.  My answer was that I did not intend to write anything in the future that somebody else had the power to change.  For many years my only writing, aside from articles for newsletters of organizations I belong to, consisted of e-mails to my circle of friends.

I still send an e-mail at least once a month commenting on books I’ve read recently.  I post on my blog about the more noteworthy of those books.

My blog is a perfect means of self-expression, from my standpoint.  I can write as much or as little as I please, although I find myself almost always spending on time on my posts than I originally intended.

I had hoped and expected, when I started my blog, that it would be a means of generating discussion and comments among my circle of friends.  In fact, the majority of my friends seldom or never read it.  But I’m compensated by being brought in contact with a circle of acquaintances in distant states and even foreign countries whom I’d never have met otherwise.

Since Jan. 20, 2010, I’ve made 3,049 posts which have elicited a total of 2,440 comments and been viewed a total of 601,009 times (not counting today).   The most views I ever got in a day was 2,199 on Election Day in 2014.

On a web site called URLmetrics, I’m ranked, as of early last year, number 2,201,006 among U.S. blogs in daily visitors and number 4,066,146 in daily views.  I don’t know whether that is good or bad.

blagofaireSource: xkcd.


A professor who teaches blogging

October 27, 2014

I never knew that the art of blogging was taught in college.

My favorite web logs

January 25, 2013

Today is my third anniversary as a blogger.   When I started, I conceived of my web log as primarily a way to have on-line conversations with my circle of friends about subjects I’m interested in.  As it turned out, only a few of my friends were interested, but I’ve made the acquaintance of other people in distant places.

blogger_in_heaven_1153685To celebrate, the anniversary, I’d like to share links to my favorite bloggers.  I divide them into two categories.  The Star Bloggers are journalists, paid bloggers and professionals who comment on subjects on which they are experts.  The Kindred Spirits are my peers—amateurs like me who think they have something to say.  I think anybody who finds my blog of interest would also like them.

I keep my Blog Roll as a page in the upper right corner of my blog.   It is subject to change, but here is how it stands today.


Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty. Glenn Greenwald is an American civil liberties lawyer who for years was a solo blogger and now writes a daily column for The Guardian in Britain.  I admire him for his hatred of injustice and his independent mind.  He judges the Obama administration by the same high standards as he judged the George W. Bush administration.

Ta-Nehisi Coates | The Atlantic. Ta-Nehisi Coates posts daily for The Atlantic magazine about popular culture, politics, the African-American perspective and his own life. His posts are interesting, and so are the well-moderated comment threads.

Rod Dreher | The American Conservative . Rod Dreher posts daily for The American Conservative magazine mainly about moral and social issues. He is a cultural and religious conservative who lives in his small hometown in Louisiana. I don’t share his political or religious creeds, but I am concerned about the same things he is. Like Coates, he writes interesting posts, and presides over interesting, well-moderated comment threads.

Conor Friedersdorf | The Atlantic . Conor Friedersdorf posts almost every day for The Atlantic mostly on politics. His own perspective seems to be mildly conservative and libertarian, but he is critical of all political factions who fail to meet the test of common sense and basic human decency.

naked capitalism. Yves Smith is a Wall Street financial consultant. She and the contributors to her blog are both outstanding investigators of political and financial corruption, and critics of conventional economic wisdom.

writer's block cartoon

ClubOrlov. Dimitri Orlov is a Russian-born American citizen who witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and sees the United States heading in the same direction. He posts every Tuesday about signs of collapse, how to survive collapse and the benefits of a simple life and mutual cooperation. I’m not sure his predictions will come true, but I am sure that the United States can continue as it is, and his thoughts have merit independently of his predictions.

The Agitator. Radley Balko performs a great public service with this web log which is devoted mainly to abuses of police and prosecutorial power. He is an example of a libertarian who is a much more staunch defender of basic Constitutional and human rights than most of us liberals. If you read his blog, you’ll see that the United States is not as free a country as most middle-class Americans assume it is.

Matt Taibbi | Taibblog | Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi posts every few days for Rolling Stone magazine mainly about financial and political corruption. He doesn’t dig as deeply as Yves Smith and her team, but his work is solid, independent of party and faction, highly readable

The Big Picture: Macro Perspective on the Capital Markets, Economy, Technology and Digital Media. Barry Ritholtz is a shrewd Wall Street analyst who posts daily on a wide range of subjects. His blog is full of interesting charts and links.


Marginal Revolution – Small steps toward a much better world. Tyler Cowen and his friend Alex Tabarrok are professors of economics at George Mason University whose view of the world is more conservative and comfortable than mine. I read their blog party to get a perspective that is different from my own, but mainly for the many interesting links on subjects I know little about. Cowen is one of the most erudite people I ever came across, and I get the benefit of his erudition.

Making Light. Patrick and Theresa Neilsen Hayden are editors for Tor science fiction books. They and their friends post every now and then on a wide variety of subjects, but what is most interesting are the links in the upper left of their web log.

The Dish | Andrew Sullivan. Andrew Sullivan is a gay, Catholic, British-born American citizen who is both a self-described conservative and an admirer of Barack Obama. He has been blogging for more than 10 years and many famous bloggers look too him as a kind of elder statesman. He and his staff post daily on a wide variety of subjects. I read his blog to get a perspective different from my own and because of the links to subjects I am not familiar with.


Unqualified Offerings: Looking sideways at your world since October 2001. “Thoreau” and his predecessor Jim Henley are physics professors in California who post almost every day with wit and wisdom about politics, science education, life in academia and the passing scene.


Psychopolitik: Random thoughts from a big angry negro. “B Psycho” in St. Louis posts with great insight every couple of weeks from a libertarian/anarchist perspective on politics and the passing scene

BlogTruth: Observations from a student of life. “Atticus Finch” and his pal “Holden” are young businessmen in Atlanta who post every few days on politics, the passing scene and, with great frankness, their personal lives. I think the blog lives up to its title; I think “Atticus Finch” is interested in knowing what is true as against parroting a received opinion

Class War in America: the Politics of Socioeconomic Class. John Pennington in San Francisco writes thoughtful essays every few days on topics related to economic justice.

simonandfinn | random things of interest…sometimes involving cartoons. “Melissa” is an artist, writer and cartoonist in Toronto who posts comments and cartoons every week or so about philosophy, the environment and the passing scene. Like me, she is an admirer of Bertrand Russell. Simon and Finn are two of her cartoon characters, but her philosophical cartoons star a character named Ernie.

Robert Nielsen | Economics, Politics and Religion. Robert Nielsen is an intelligent and well-informed young economics student in Ireland who posts every couple of days, usually to debunk economic or religious dogma.

New NY 23rd: Discuss the Politics, Economics and Events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District. Rich Stewart, a retired school teacher in Yates County, N.Y., writes and links about political issues affecting New York’s 23rd congressional district, which takes in the thinly-populated Southern Tier of counties along the Pennsylvania line, as well as some of the Finger Lakes area. His posts deserve a wider readership than just the citizens of that district.

The Deliberate Observer: both eyes open…. “Chico Marx” in the Twin Cities puts up links every few days to interesting articles.

Reddotsg’s Blog“Reddotsg” is a blogger in Singapore who posts every now and then about events in Singapore and the world.  I like the idea of having a connection with someone in a country I will never visit.  [Added 1/26/13]


Six months as a blogger

July 25, 2010

Today marks six months since I started this web log.  If I’d known how easy it was, and how much web hosts such as WordPress provide free, I might have begun years ago.

Unlike my 40 years working on newspapers, I don’t have to meet deadlines, I don’t have to write to a specific length and I’m not subject to anybody with the power to alter or disapprove what I’ve written.  On the other hand, I don’t do any real reporting.  There are bloggers who are excellent reporters, and excellent reporters who have blogs; I don’t fall within either category.

What I write comes from my reminiscences, my daily life, my reading and other Internet web logs.  Having a web log is like being able to write an unlimited number of letters to the editor.  I depend a great deal on material from regular newspapers and magazines which is available free on the Internet.  I would like to think I am symbiotic rather than parasitic; I help disseminate the material, and add my own insight for what it’s worth.  At the same time I do little to alleviate the financial plight of the magazine and journalism industries.

My original expectation was that my web log would be read mainly by some of my friends and acquaintances.  WordPress facilitates the circulation of my posts on the Internet, and I am surprised and pleased that my writing is of interest to strangers.

One of my vices as a newspaper reporter was that I was overly prolific.  I wrote some things that I am proud of, a great many more mediocre and forgettable things, and some things I wish I hadn’t written.  My desire to write and get feedback from what I’ve written is addictive.  I would have served myself and my readers better if I had written less and better.

There were a couple of times in my career when I had weekly newspaper columns.  When I began them, I had a great backlog of opinions to express. Gradually I depleted my inventory of ideas, and reached a point where I ceased to wonder, What am I going to write about this week?, and started to wonder, What can I write about this week?  I promise myself, and you, that I will not fall into this trap as a blogger.  When I have nothing I want to write, I won’t write it.