Opinion » Bill Cope

If I Had My Drathers

Unclogging the blog fog

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Listen, blog people, I have to tell you all something you're probably not going to like much. But it's been bothering me since Dan Rather had his bones picked clean by a pack of feral bloggers, and I don't know how else to say it except here on this page. If I had a blog of my own, I'd tell you that way and hope those folks who have nothing better to do than snorkel the blogwaters all day would stumble onto it and spread the word. But I don't have a blog of my own. Never got around to blogging in, or blogging up, or whatever the hell it is you bloggers do to get yourself a blog. I'm aware that blogs are supposed to be the cutting edge of whatever blogging is, but frankly, I'd prefer to stay blogless. No offense, but I'm pretty sure I can come up with better things to do than piss away my hours, throwing more useless crap into the Internet landfill, all in hopes that a handful of other socially inept obsessives are aware of my every thought.

So please excuse my reliance on old-fashioned paper and ink, and also pardon my use of more than one paragraph. Judging from most of the blogs I've visited, it's apparent most of you rely heavily on succinct little mini-zingers-i.e. "MUSH! ... What's up with that?!" (Insert link to hatequakeroats.com for more). But unfortunately, it's always been my experience that complex thoughts require complex sentences to be expressed properly.

Which brings me to what you're going to hate me for saying, but I am compelled to say it anyway. It has to do with the writing in your blogs-the actual words, as opposed to all those precious graphics and snappy colors and the many sympathetic links you throw in to let readers know how unlikely it is that you think up the stuff you write all by yourself.

Now, I realize that good writing doesn't always come easily. Believe me, even bad writing can be like popping a zit on your own back. Still, I'm convinced it is incumbent upon those of us who call ourselves "writers" that we make every effort to not befoul the prose pool any further than it has already been befouled. (I haven't time here to offer a polemic on how far the language has deteriorated. Suffice it to say, if you believe "MSM" is a real word, you should reconsider your choice of a dream career.)

I take this seriously because I work hard not to repeat what I've heard elsewhere, to think my own thoughts rather than rely on Matt Drudge or Little Green Footballs. com for philosophical direction, and most of all, to write without spreading the same old banalities, images, revelations and metaphors. (A metaphor, for those who don't know, is a writing device which, if used properly, illustrates and enhances the subject in question. For instance, were I to say bloggers are the crab lice in the pubic hair of the information revolution, that would be a metaphor. Get it?)

Yet more and more, I see so-called writers foregoing authentic creativity for cross-references to other so-called writers. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but those Internet links of yours are no substitute for originality. And it has been my experience that random musings are best left in one's head. Especially when you didn't muse them first.

And one more little thing... if you call yourself a writer and can't stretch a single idea out to a 1,000 words at least, quit calling yourself a writer and have the guts to admit it... you're just a blogger. And while you're at it, quit calling that blog of yours "writing." I mean, any sixth grader can whack out a paragraph on what they did during summer vacation or how icky they think Hillary Clinton is, but that doesn't make them Mark Twain, now does it?

Nor does having your own blog make you a news source. While I understand that many bloggers simply want to pass on what mood you're in at the moment, or what it's like to be a creative genius born into the body of a stay-at-home mom, or what a freethinking wildman you are, a whole nother bunch has taken to thinking of yourselves as journalists. No such luck, blog boy. Commenting on the news is not news.

And just between you and me, there are very few true journalists, anywhere. I refer to those intrepid individuals who actually rise from their computers, lace up their boots and go find out something relevant, interesting or significant to tell the world about.

Dan Rather, for instance ... why, that man has reported-live-from more countries than most of you know how to spell. He wasn't commenting on the Vietnam War. He was there. He wasn't opinionizing on the Afghan resistance to the Russian occupation. He was there. He didn't make his name on some phony teevee discussion panel arguing the merits of the civil rights movement or the downfall of Richard Nixon. He wasn't speculating idly on who really shot Kennedy. He was there.

And that's the difference between Dan Rather and you, blog people. For nearly half a century, Rather buttoned up his khaki coat and traveled to wherever news was being born. Particularly in the first half of his career, he went to within a bullet's range of the hottest of spots, sending back the information without which all the pundits and commentators and opinionizers (and bloggers) would have nothing to talk about. Except, of course, each other.

Yet on this very day, Dan is stepping down, largely because a feeding frenzy of Blog-guppies decided amongst their self-important selves that he made a mistake. What a shame. Not so much that Dan is retiring-he's earned his rest-but that pretend journalists could so easily ruin the real thing. (As it turns out, there was as much evidence to support CBS's accusations against Bush as there was against. Only, the Bush-worshipping blogs yelled louder. For an honest appraisal of how dishonestly the blogs performed during the entire Rather episode, read the article "Blog-Gate" in the January/February issue of the Columbia Journalism Review at www.cjr.org. It may make you feel like hosing your Internet connection down with Lysol.)

And finally... no, this writer doesn't go out and experience the news as it happens, either. Like blog people, I am generally content to camp out on my soft ass, assimilate what more ambitious individuals have assembled, then recoat it with my own brand of shellac. And yes... I probably should have made that clear from the beginning of this piece.

But I knew I could count on bloggers to point it out for me. Particularly since you seem to have nothing better to do.