This Is Not A Blog, a webzine produced by the Digital Journalism class at New York University in Spring 2005, contains several interviews with prominent persons in the online journalism sphere. Two that caught my eye provide deeper looks at Jim Romenesko and Kurt Andersen.
Andersen is a fan of blogs, but he says they need to be reinvented if they want to achieve clout in journalism. “The speed of blogs is great, but there are complex arguments and thoughts that can’t be compressed into 150 words. I am eager for the next moment in the evolution of blogs to happen, where there are people actually doing reportorial journalism in the blog form.”
He envisions a hybrid blog, whereby a journalist is paid to search out stories and blog about them, incorporating both traditional reporting and opinion. “So then it’s not just all like ‘Look at what this blogger said about this other blogger.’ It all becomes a bit of an echo chamber. The coffee gets pretty thin if you pour it through the grounds 10 times.”
Anderson maintained a blog for a short time on his own site, kurtandersen.com, but abandoned it last autumn while working on his new novel. He says he doesn’t have any spare intellectual energy to share with the world. “I did a few postings. And I’ve always known it could be a very addictive thing. It’s fun. Maybe it’s really old school of me, but I’m paid to write. So why am I going to write for free? Maybe over time I’ll develop a lot of second-rate thoughts to put on the blog.”
Romenesko, on the other hand, has no such quibbles with blogging.
Romenesko is dedicated blogger. He rises every day at 5 a.m. and immediately checks his e-mail and bookmarked Web sites for stories of interest. He later steps out to a nearby Starbucks (go figure), and hooks his computer up to a Wi-Fi connection to work from there, reading dozens of newspaper sites and blogs.
He usually heads home from Starbucks in the late afternoonâ€”still posting until dinnertimeâ€”and goes to bed by 10 p.m., only to start the entire process all over again seven hours later.
Romenesko insists that he maintains a “real life” outside the blogosphere. “Of course, between postings I do ‘normal’ thingsâ€”watch TV, read books, newspapers, magazines, go to movies, meet up with friends, dine out.”
Even so, maintaining three daily blogs takes a great deal of time and effort. So much so that he hasn’t taken more than two vacations in the last five years.
As a host of three blogs myself, I can relate to Romenesko best. Yet, as a writer of things other than blogs, I can see where Andersen’s counter point is equally appealing. For I can envision a day where I have more important and better paying things to write than blog posts. Like books, or screenplays or long-form journalism.