Sunday, March 20, 2005

I Before We

Although I have done a pretty fair amount of political and current events writing for the better part of the last seven years or so, at several fora, with the establishment of this blog over the past few months, I have noticed a new dynamic creeping into my writing overall.

Where I formerly used "I" self-referentially in commentary, it seems to have now morphed into "we". This is no pretension to royalty, nor to any sort of organized network of people churning out content. Nope, I'm just one guy, furiously typing away in the futile hope that I'll eventually crank out Shakespeare -- or at least Hunter Thompson.

Moreover, I make no pretense that this is the be-all/end-all of commentary; far from it. The current meme seems to be that of the "citizen journalist", and there's certainly the ideal for objective reportage of factual content, interspersed as it is with (hopefully) mighty rants. But real journos have resources (either through the organizational logistics of news agencies or networks, or through the cultivation of a set of valuable and newsworthy sources) and presumably have gone to some sort of school to hone their craft.

(And yes, Jeff Gannon™, real journalism is a craft; it's not a stepping stone for you and your strangely penis-shaped cranium to hog face time on the Faux News Network, commenting about the world as if you even knew the difference between Einstein and Freud. There's more to it than a weekend seminar in partisan foolishness masquerading as sober thought and analysis. But you already know that, don't you, dear?)

I do not have any journalism training, nor do I aspire to any. And aside from Google, I have no journalistic resources. I live in the hinterlands of Northern California, so it's not like I have a laundry list of valuable newsmaking contacts. I have a set of opinions on issues, and a bad temper. And that's all that's really needed for this, whatever it is.

It's not "citizen journalism" though, a term which makes me laugh at its inherent silliness almost as much as it makes me bristle at the very notion. The first thing they tell you in real journalism school is to take yourself out of the story, so there's that. Since we prefer commentary and analysis over mere objectivity (though that's certainly an important factor), that's not yet a concern, at least until we refine our craft a bit. No, I suppose if I were to attach any sort of "real" title to this....thing, I would maybe say "citizen columnist". Close enough, if one needs some sort of reference point (or handy phrase for googling).

Anyway, the I/we thing. There's no Strunk & White style guide for this citizen columnist deal, so we make it up as we go along (all of us bloggers, not just me or the royal "we"). What's comfortable about the "we" is that it seems to provide some semantic distance from whatever I'm commenting/ranting about. Plus it's kind of a tongue-in-cheek affectation, I (we) suppose.


Craig Heath said...

Heywood - way to call it. I think "citizen columnist" is both accurate and evocative, the way Pamphleteer was during the Revolutionary period. I can see blogging as that important practice updated, using a new kind of "paper" and "ink" to inform and proselytize.

We are amused.

Heywood J. said...

Yep. We can all be Tom Paine (except for Jeff Gannon™, of course).

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