Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"To Blog or Not to Blog..." (you know the rest)

I will not be getting a raise this year, cost-of-living or otherwise; instead my company is giving me a blog.

I am happy because this is a total validation of my blog-worthiness; I am sad because I would rather have money.

I tried to explain this "raise" (in esteem, if nothing else) to my mother.

MOM: What is a blog?

ME: Like my personal blog, but for work.

MOM: I guess I don't really understand what a blog is...

She was not alone.

Others were equally puzzled:

OTHERS: So, what is the point of giving you a blog?

ME: To drive people to our Web site and engage readers.

OTHERS: Like, to drive revenue and advertising?

ME: Ummm... not specifically, but I suppose that could happen as a result...

While immense revenue opportunities may exist in "blogging" I am fairly incompetent when it comes to the business side of things. As far as I am concerned a blog is an Internet Soap Box where I can spew forth personal narratives (in this case, they would pertain to my 9-5).

My task was to devise an over-riding theme for this blog. My boss had a couple of ideas and so did I. None were all that compelling and I was still not quite accepting the idea.

As a journalist, you don't want to bare too much of your soul to your "readers" because then they can make inferences about you. I write about my dog, for example, and something I might find humorous (trying to pull tick-like bumps off of her body for several minutes before realizing they are her doggy nipples) and before you know it an angry reader will be reporting me to PETA and taking my dog away. (Come on, it's an easy mistake to make).

Of course I wouldn't dream of mentioning in a professional blog how Ella likes to rifle through the bathroom garbage can during my "time of the month" and sample used sanitary items; or how she had a bad habit of ripping the crotches out of my dirty underwear (now she just licks them until they are soggy and I can wash them clean). I would only write about such really disturbing things in a blog where I can maintain some semblance of (perceived ) anonymity.

But how can I write about myself and my very human life, when I need my "readers" to believe I am somehow above those human idiosyncrasies that can be quickly translated into credibility damaging biases.

Journalists are at best shamans, and at worst voyeurs. We can't do anything or join any clubs that might jeopardize our precious journalistic integrity. I recently found a club I was interested in joining, the League of Women Voters, which is essentially a government watchdog organization - much like the Fourth Estate. It promotes political involvement (as opposed to the prevailing public apathy). Supposedly the organization is bipartisan. However, leaders at the national level often take a stand on certain issues, and I can't have that coming back to tarnish my shiny journalistic standards.

Sometimes I feel like I am like Scrooge in a "Christmas Carole" - I can only see (and report) what the ghosts are showing me; I am not allowed to impact the outcome of the events I see.

But I should write a blog.

I can't help but believe that "sharing" with "readers" in this way will call into question my journalistic integrity in everything I write OUTSIDE of the blogisphere.

I guess it will be a "fun" little experiment.

Or the beginning of the end.