“Every time someone stops blogging,
an angel gets its wings.”
I’m not in the habit of calling reporters first thing in the morning to complain about a story, but I have been known to do it. I did it again the other day, over a story on Pittgirl, who I’ve never read. She’s a local blogger who formerly was anonymous, and who recently set down the blogging burden. A fan of hers found her out, and Pittgirl made good on her promise to quit blogging if her identity was revealed.
Why? Because the revelation would affect the blogger professionally, according to the story by Dennis Roddy. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, being ga-ga over Pitwitchick’s writing, placed the story on the front page of one of America’s greatest newspapers. The story angered me because Pitwitchick got to say her piece on whoever she wanted, but once her mask was removed, she didn’t want to play anymore. That is, she’s afraid of the criticism and potential professional repercussions that can accompany flaying people in print online.
For all I know, Pitwitchick works for the mayor, who’s been a frequent object of her derision. And if she does work for those whom she attacked, she’s even more of a chickenshit than the run-of-the-mill anonymous blogger. The internet has engendered far too much pusillanimous behavior. We don’t need to applaud it. And yes, I know about the Federalist Papers—Pitwitchick is no Alexander Hamilton.
I’m getting off track. Roddy is one of the P-G’s most talented reporters and he’s also a top-notch columnist. But I had to take issue with the story, because it had been bugging me for some time that the newspaper had chosen to endorse this nameless writer. Where is the P-G’s objectivity, when it endorses an anonymous blogger? As she proved in her exit from the blogosphere, Pitwitchick is the type of person who wants to lambast people, but will not be held accountable for her own words. And yet much of the local media was enamored with her—the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review also wrote a story about her quitting blogging.
This blog has been the recipient of some favorable press from the P-G, but that was by design, because I figured I’d get some of the attention that other bloggers were getting. And I’ve always liked the P-G, from my experience as a paper boy delivering the paper when I was a kid, to my recent experience freelancing for the paper. Dennis Roddy has very generously allowed me to include some of his insights in the book on writing on which I’m working, so I think he’s especially cool because of it. So it pains me to bust his chops.
But as I told Roddy, I find all of this writing in the newspaper about local blogs to be a bit cloying. Why is the P-G spending so much time and precious space writing about blogs? It’s so embarrassingly derivative.
You might be wondering if I was a tad bit jealous about all of the attention Pitwitchick was getting, and if so, you’re right. I was a bit envious, but I didn’t feel that I merited the attention, either, simply because I do very little blogging these days.
Reading a blog, though, is more about the whimsical choice of consumers who can change their brand whenever they want. They might read this blog for a while, but if something said here makes readers think the Barnestormer is a jagoff, or if I just fail to entertain, readers move on. So I don’t exactly understand the point of newspapers writing about blogs. The P-G and Trib aren’t writing regularly about the City Paper and the Pittsburgh Business Times, are they? So why blogs?
Where is the news value in writing about blogs in the newspaper? Is it really necessary, especially when news pages and news holes are shrinking? Aren’t there more important things to report on?