just a writer real blogger alexandra wroteI 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.

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19 thoughts on “a blogger. a real writer. same difference.

  1. Kerri Sackville

    Great post. THANK YOU. I write a blog and I write columns and I have written books and I see no difference between the three – they are all ‘real’ writing, just writing in different media. I really appreciate your support x

    Reply
  2. Twitchy

    Nicely put and on point. And I do love the way not one blogger critiqueing the column has so much as mentioned the writer’s name, just their work. Top stuff.

    Reply
  3. edenland

    Oh Alexandra you wrote this SO beautifully. Made me realise parts about this I haven’t even thought about. Thank you .. sorry I couldn’t answer you on twitter today, I was too reeling.

    THANK YOU.

    Reply
  4. Watershedd

    I agree, bloggers are writers. Some are better than others, the purposes vary, but all are writers. I am very circumspect in much of what I write on my own blog, but I also write for another blog and professionally. The bloggers I read are generally open and honest, but I know of at least one blog that has derided a friend through a spoof of her own blog. It was very nasty to her and presented a less than truthful account of who she is & what she has endured, all with malicious intent. And the sad thing is, there is not requirement for the blogger to correct the content or publish a retraction, something that, at least nominally a newspaper may be required to do. That’s the theory at least, not always the practice. It pays to investigate the information provided regardless of the source.

    As for what people divulge about themselves in their blog, that’s entirely their choice. Those blogs that are about people’s lives are really their own property. What they tell and how they do so is up to them and anyone who judges should simply pull their heads in.

    Reply
    1. alexandra Post author

      I’m so sorry for your friend, but I want you to know bloggers have the same responsibility as journalists regarding defamation of character. One can blog their opinion and express their perspective on a situation, but defamation is a huge legal responsibility and is taken seriously. In the US courts it has been.

      Reply
      1. Robyn

        Alexandra, Australian bloggers may soon be required to confirm to industry guidelines in the same way as mainstream media if recommended media controls are implemented. They will include blogs with 15,000 page views a year in the industry controls and compliance will be required. There is considerable concern at all levels that the recommendations are in contravention of the UDHR provisions.

      2. alexandra Post author

        I’d love to email you more to find out about this. Not sure what the guidelines would entail. In the US, bloggers are required to disclose any product they’ve received that for free/with compensation and they also have to file taxes accordingly. Most people have no idea what magazines and papers are paid to promote a product, so I think that disclosure ONLY by bloggers isn’t right. On the flip, I think it is the disclosure issue that has made bloggers such a trusted resource and why consumers are listening to them. It has it’s ups and downs.

  5. Kirsten

    Great piece. Having been a news media junkie for many years, I find myself reading blogs more and more now because the writing is sharper, more honest and more relevant to my life than a lot of what I see in the papers or on TV.

    There is an upside of the piece today – I found this blog in the uproar about the piece from bloggers and mums alike on Twitter in Australia today. Grateful

    Kirsten

    Reply
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  9. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity

    I often wonder about this duality of bloggers vs writers. Some people say that blogging isn’t writing because a blog is a community building exercise, built on interactions and support. Yet, in order to create a blog you must write. You must write well.

    All of the bloggers featured in the article write extremely well. I was quite offended, particularly on Eden’s behalf, about the way they were portrayed in the article.

    In a way, I’m glad that this has happened, because it is getting far more attention, attention to us bloggers, than the article itself would get. It just goes to show that we are a power to be reckoned with.

    Reply
  10. Robyn

    It took a while for me to consider myself a writer, but I do now. I am in the Best Australian Blogs competition for the second year in a row, I have 4 people reading the first draft of my memoir, which stands at a word count of 92,000.

    I clicked on the link above to read the article, but the page was not found, so perhaps it was removed? I would have liked to have seen it. Serves me right for being late to the party I guess.

    Reply
  11. Princess April Ann

    I am considered a writer even though I am a blogger in real life. I blog about anything from Royalty, history and I also a member of Yahoo answers. If a became a children’s writer I will try my very best to succeed as an online web writer or author.

    Reply
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