I so often write If Emily Posted discussing the ways that we, as bloggers, need to give online writing the same attention to detail as print publications if we want to be respected. That we might even have to try harder because we have to gain that respect in a world that has far too many assumptions about what blogging is. I never thought we’d have to do anything but assume the same in return.
My friend Eden Riley was interviewed alongside three other well-read and highly regarded bloggers (Kerri Sackville, Naomi P-T and Beth MacDonald) in a large Australian newspaper today (well, technically tomorrow – you know, hemispheres). Thanks to the world-flattening properties of social media, tonight twitter was abuzz because the newspaper took what could have been a great piece about the power of words and the power of the blogosphere and instead published something riddled with huge factual inaccuracies and a tone that keeps the Mean Girls spirit between “real writers” and bloggers alive and well. (I define “huge” as 7 days mistaken for 7 months and calling someone living dead – I consider these failures with a capital F in the fact-checking department). I feel like apologizing on behalf of magazine journalists everywhere. That’s not the code of ethics we live by.
I am a “real writer.” Whatever that means.
I am a blogger. Whatever that means.
I find this elitism nonsensical. I also find it irresponsible and backwards. Let’s not be so quick to judge whose words are more qualified for publishing. I happened to make a Costco run today, and as I passed by the books, I noticed two large stacks for books by bloggers, a memoir and a cookbook. There is nothing unreal about their writing. Bloggers are real writers, too. Published or not.
I’ve had the opportunity to interview some incredible people in my career. It doesn’t matter if it’s an award-winning filmmaker or someone no one would ever know by name, I always do my research, come with questions prepped and my attention devoted on them. My goal is always the same: doing my best to respect their story in writing mine. I don’t know if interview subjects ever think about it much. I know they’re often worried to know how they’ll appear on the page, and understandably so, but do they know that writers worry that they’ll be pleased? We do. We talk amongst ourselves, breathing a sigh of relief when a piece is published and it’s well received. And there is no greater satisfaction than the rare occasion when a note or an email arrives unexpectedly from someone I’ve interviewed to say thank you. I treasure those correspondences. I do. Because it means I’ve done my job well.
I want to hear what the newspaper has to say, because they have the ability to make corrections. Four writers deserve to have their words corrected.
Newspapers and magazines can make mistakes. So can blogs. We all can. To err is human. But then it’s time to get to work doing something to fix it.