Weekend Without Echoes
The word “journalist” was used quite a bit by speakers and questioners. There were attempts to draw a clear line between blogging and journalism. Many of those who spoke of journalists made the word sound rather highfaluting. Some spoke of widely-accepted standards for journalism, as if they were carved in stone and have been around for centuries.
Well, that’s not really the truth. But rather than use this space to expand on the history of journalism, what I want to do now is react to two challenges that two invited journalists at the Blog Summit offered during their remarks.
Michael Shear, of the Washington Post, challenged the bloggers in his audience to try to go a whole week, writing their own copy on their own stories. In other words, Shear was suggesting that most bloggers would be hard pressed to go a week writing original material only.
Gordon Morse, of The Daily Press, challenged the group to write about the stories that the mainstream media are missing, or getting wrong. His point was that bloggers tend to write about the same things, the same big stories that are already being over-reported by the mainstream media.
The words of those two writers have been tumbling around in my head ever since. Both men made good points about the blogosphere, in general.
Yes, the echo chamber effect is a part of the blogging scene that is annoying and mostly a waste of time. It does little to promote discussion. Repeating talking points and buzz words in a hammering fashion seems to be the main reason for some blogs to exist. It’s difficult for me to see that such blogs accomplish much, other than to irritate their opponents and other readers who aren’t part of the snickering club of wannabe propagandists.
On the other hand, there are several Virginia bloggers that I read who are pretty good at writing original material, whether it’s on politics or other topics. So, perhaps Shear and Morse would do well to be more selective about which blogs they bother to read.
Still, I do think that notion of a group of bloggers trying to go for a brief spell without adding more noise to the echo chamber -- by writing original material and not merely cutting and pasting and linking -- is something to pursue. Some bloggers I know are already doing that, for the most part. At times I have saluted some of them in my comments on their blogs.
Accordingly, I’d like to propose that bloggers who want to participate in a little experiment, use the weekend of July 21-23 to show the rest of the blogosphere that it can be done. It would be a weekend vacation from copying, and piling on, and talking points ... a weekend without calling everyone with whom one disagrees a “liberal,” or a “conservative,” as if those are dirty words.
For instance -- for the Webb team it would mean a weekend without using the name, “Felix,” in your posts. For the Allen team it would mean three days without using the word, “flip-flopper,” in your posts. And, if you can't write about those two guys without using those words, and words like them, maybe try writing about something else. Hey, I’m only talking about three days.
This will cost you nothing. Anyone can play. There will be no policeman to cite a blogger who seems to have violated the spirit of the Weekend Without Echoes. All you have to do is say, “OK, I'll try it, too.” Then do it.
SLANTblog is thus challenging any and all Virginia bloggers, of any persuasion, to announce that they will take part in the experiment. Perhaps we could assemble a carnival of the best posts from that weekend, etc. Suggestions are welcome.