Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

A Blogger’s Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning

June 29, 2014

Being a UU, I know that Unitarian Universalists do not have a creed, but UU communities affirm and promote Seven Principles. The Fourth one, “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” is the one that concerns us for this post. I am examining how that principle applies to the body of work that I have produced for this blog, which is a Personal blog. WordPress, which hosts more than 60 million websites including this one, says Personal “is the broadest category and includes blogs about personal topics like politics, music, family, travel, health, you name it.”

Since I started this blog in 2008, there have been 690 posts. There is no way we can examine each one, so let’s take a look at the one that has gotten and continues to get the most hits. The August 19, 2009 post AN EMOTIONAL WILLIAM CALLEY SAYS HE IS SORRY not only continues to get a lot of hits, but continues to get comments from readers.

Former Army Lt. William Calley, the only person convicted of participating in the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War, including a lot of  women and children,  used the occasion of speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus (Georgia), to apologize for his  role in the war crime.  My report was picked up by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, carried by all McClatchey newspapers , and fed by the L-E to the Associated Press,  causing it to be reported around the world.

I can’t speak  for others, so I’ll just concentrate on what I  see to be true in the report.  One significant truth to me is that some human beings of any nationallity are capable of unspeakable acts. Another one is that not only are some people incapaable of that, but they will actively oppose those who are.    

 What’s the meaning of the story?  For one thing, to me, it again raises the point that  war is an insane way for nations to resolve conflicts.  For another,  it shows that political leaders can get a lot of people killed unnecessarily and can be disingenuous about justifying their lethal actions.    

I realize that it may have an entirely different truth and meaning for you. Please feel  free to click on the comment button and let me know how you feel about the subject.  I do request that comments be civil, not too profane, and sans name calling. 

 

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People are Blogging Less, and That Includes Me

August 30, 2010

ARE YOU BLOGGING LESS?

A Pew research report tells us that overall people are blogging a lot less now. The report says,” In 2006, 28% of teens ages 12-17 and young adults ages 18-29 were bloggers, but by 2009 the numbers had dropped to 14% of teens and 15% of young adults. During the same period, the percentage of online adults over thirty who were bloggers rose from 7% blogging in 2006 to 11% in 2009.”

This doesn’t mean teenagers are less active online. They have gone to social sites, with Facebook being the favorite. Facebook isn’t as demanding as blogging., Real blogging requires significant content, and teenagers, I read, just don’t have the life and professional experiences to offer insightful content. Besides that, it takes a lot more time and effort to write meaningful blog posts.

Studies also show that the percentage of folks 65 and older that go online is quite small,  38 percent. That compares to more than 90 percent of teenagers and young adults.

I am among bloggers who are blogging a lot less. Some weeks I only do one post, which I put online either Sunday night or Monday morning. It is not, however, because I use Facebook a lot. I am on Facebook, but I will go for days without checking it. I blog less because I have other things to do and because I don’t want the pressure of trying to post something every day. How about you, are you blogging less and is it because of Facebook?

Gay Talese is Not Thrilled with Internet and Tape Recorder Journalism

January 25, 2010

THE HIGHLY ACCLAIMED NON-FICTION WRITER AND HIS EDITOR WIFE NAN TOOK QUESTIONS FROM A COLUMBUS PUBLIC LIBRARY AUDIENCE

Gay Talese, the man who gave rise to “New Journalism” when he wrote his most famous article for Esquire, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” has a low opinion of the quality of magazine writing today. The only exception to that judgement is the New Yorker, whose writers do it the old-fashioned way: face to face contact with the source. Speaking to an audience at the Columbus Public Library today, he said magazines are all celebrity oriented.l They want to put a celebrity picture on the magazine cover. The story inside might be written by a writer who maybe spent ten minutes with the celebrity, tape recording an interview. He said you can’t really get a meaningful interview that way.

He and his wife Nan chatted a little about their marriage and careers – they have been married for 50 years – and then took questions from the audience. The first question was about his opinion about the blogosphere and the Internet.

Gay Talese

“I don’t know anything about the blogosphere. I don’t use it,” he said. He went on to say that he believed in face to face conversations with sources, not contact with sources via the Internet, or using Google or anything like that. He believes in personal contact. He doesn’t even like or use tape recorders. For one thing, he says they inhibit sources. The person you are interviewing figures he or she has to get it right the first time. “They usually don’t.” When the person being interviewed is more relaxed and becomes comfortable with the interviewer, they come back to a question and give a more thoughtful answer.

When I pointed out that his most famous article, the one that gave rise to the term “new journalism,” the one he wrote for Esquire Magazine about Frank Sinatra, was one without a face-to-face interview, he admitted that was the case. Esquire had paid his expenses to go to Los Angeles to interview Sinatra, but when he got there, “His press agent said Sinatra could not do the interview because he had a cold.” Finally, the press agent told Talese that Sinatra was upset because he had heard that Walter Cronkite was working on a program for CBS on Sinatra’s connections with the Mafia.

Gay Talese

Instead of giving up, Talese stayed on in Los Angeles and interviewed people who knew Sinatra, people who worked with him in movies and recording sessions. “Hundreds of people had worked with Sinatra over the years.” He believes that he probably got a truer picture of Sinatra than if he had actually interviewed him. But, he said, “I was in Los Angeles. I interviewed those people. I made contact with them.”

The “New Journalism” he is credited with starting with that article refers to the technique that he used in writing it. He dropped the old newspaper style of reporting and wrote it in the same way that you would write a novel. It was all true – his stint as a reporter for the New York Times had imbued him with the importance of accuracy – but, the style was novelistic. It worked big time. Esquire ran it as its cover story.

Talese was not happy with what the “New Journalism” became. His complaint is the same complaint he has with bloggers, the lack of accuracy. Too many writers now, he said, sacrifice accuracy. After their appearance in the library’s auditorium, I went up to him, introduced myself, shook hands, and told him I enjoyed their performance – that wasn’t smoke because I definitely did – and handed him a blog business card, telling him that I had a blog and was going to write about their talk. He took the card and thanked me.

Nan Talese

Nan Talese, who is now Senior Vice President at Doubleday, was asked about some of the authors she has edited for the New York publishing firms where she has worked. It was an impressive list, people like James Michener, Pat Conroy and Rosalynn Carter.

She went to Plains to work with Rosalyn on her autobiography First Lady from Plains. She got to know Mrs. Carter well because they spent a lot of time together. She would have dinner with Rosalynn and President Carter. After dinner they would all watch the evening news on television. She said that was an interesting experience, citing one evening when President Carter became irritated with a report about an English public figure and shouted “jackass, jackass” at the TV.

Mrs. Talese said sometimes Jimmy would try to give Rosalynn some advice about how a passage should be written, which irritated Rosalynn, who finally told him, “Jimmy, you wrote your book, now let me write mine.” She said that the two could be competitive and that when Rosalyn’s book hit the number one slot on the New York Times list of best sellers Jimmy was perplexed because none of his books had done that. She added that they were a great couple and she enjoyed being with them.

Fans in line to get Talese books autographed, Columbus Public Library, Columbus, Georgia

I have never read any of Gay Talese’s books, but that is about to change. After today’s delightful presentation by the two of them, he went out into the library’s rotunda for a book signing. I bought A Writer’s Life, which he wrote in 2006, and the best seller about the Mafia, Honor Thy Father, which he wrote in 1971. I got him to autograph both books.

He was born and raised in New Jersey, but when he graduated from high school, he couldn’t get into any universities there or in neighboring states. He was accepted by the University of Alabama, where he majored in journalism. In “A Writer’s Life”, he reports that his journalism instructors weren’t thrilled when he strayed from the newspaper “who, what, where, when, why, and how” inverted-pyramid writing style. But, look what straying from that style did for him when he wrote the Sinatra story in 1966. It played a large role in his publishing success, and revolutionized journalistic style.

Passionate Blogging

December 4, 2008

  Maybe I’ve been doing this blogging thing the wrong way. Instead of trying to post a well-written think piece, I should simply give vent to my passions and not worry about details like literary excellence. That’s what I took from Arianna Huffington when she was interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. She was on the show to plug her book on how to blog. It’s titled The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging.

  She said the key to successful blogging is to write about your passions, and to not worry about a blog post being a finished product.  In other words, don’t spend a lot of time trying polish your posts.

  I don’t spend a lot of time doing that, but I do try to make the post readable and get the grammar as correct as possible. I take a few liberties and sometimes use sentence fragments because that’s the way I speak and just about everyone else speaks. I remember one of my English Literature professors saying that before you can get away with breaking the rules, you have know them. She said, “When you are writing for me, you have to convince me that you know the rules. Don’t break them.” I don’t claim to know the rules flawlessly, but I’m not being graded by her any more so I’ll break the ones I do know when I feel like it.

 Arianna said that when you blog you should write about your passions. Once I figure what they are now, maybe I’ll concentrate on them. They have changed over time. Once I was very passionate about being an actor.  I acted in a few plays for Theater Atlanta when I was working at WSB Radio, and I appeared in a number of Columbus Little Theater productions before CLT morphed into the Springer Opera House, and then a few more productions there. I decided that the pay for all that work wasn’t adequate.  All the local actors did it for “the love of it,” but the Springer started bringing in outsiders who did it for the money. Once a dollar value was put on playing a lead in a play, I decided, no pay, no play.

I definately had a passion for being a radio announcer, which I satisfied by doing it, and when television came to Georgia, I decided I had a passion for that and did it for more than forty years. I got paid for that so I knew I was valuable. But, that passion has been satisfied and I don’t have it any more. I could still do it because…well, I know how.  If I came up with a specific topic I wanted to do a documentary on, I could become passionate about it.

I am passionate about my family, my children and grandchildren, and I have occasionally written about them, but I don’t want to invade their privacy so I keep that to a minimum.

I still love music, good theater, music, literature, art, and my interest in football has been rekindled. I am enjoying the Falcons this year. Maybe it’s because they are winning a few games. Also, I have been watching Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Auburn games.  Alabama is awesome. “Awesome” is a much over-used word, but, in this case, it really is an accurate adjective. I was glad they beat Auburn because losing six in a row in that classic rivalry made me feel sorry for them. The same with Georgia Tech and Georgia. Tech had lost seven in a row. That’s too much so I was glad they pulled off that three-point win.   

And, yes, I am passionate about politics, and I do occasionally write about that.

Maybe I’ll make Arianna happy and buy her book, or maybe I’ll check it out at the library and save the money, or maybe I’ll ignore it. It will just depend on my passion about it.

The Positive Side of Columbus’ Biggest Problem

August 12, 2008

  It’s positive for some few people. I’ll be getting into that probably Monday. Right now I have a non-blog project that I am working on that will probably delay posting until next week. It’ll be a biggie though, so tune in Monday! That’s when you can find out if it lives up to the hype.