With this post, I will lower the standards of journalism around the world. I will make a spelling error. I will probably make that error with the word 'grammer.' I will punctuate outside of quotations, I will single space where a double space is the rule, and I will unnecessarily place a comma before the final item in a list. I will start sentences with 'and' and 'because,' (I have no idea where the comma goes there) and with god as my witness, I will find somewhere to interject a superfluous semicolon. That's just how I roll.
The thing is? (So not even close to being a sentence.) I don't care. I am not a journalist; I am a journaler. (See, I totally made that word up.) (And that probably should have read, "See, I totally made up that word.") (Also; semicolon.) I am a diarist. I'd wager that a good 75% of those of you reading this are also diarists. I'm not looking to cure cancer or end world anything, I'm just looking to take some notes about my life that won't end up as grocery lists or Pokemon posters later. For that reason, I do my journaling on the internet. It's tidy.
It's an interesting thing, this internetowebosphere. For me, it seems merely like an isolated corner of the internet where a group of like minded people can meet and mingle, but I think that's a fallacy, truth be told. I believe that we are being watched, taken notice of and critiqued.
We bloggers have been called the generation of first drafts (for the life of me, I cannot find that quote), we've been labeled "Intellectual Kleptomaniacs" or "exuberant monkeys ... creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity," (those quotes won't stop finding me) and as much as those words ruffle every feather on my back, I can't exactly argue the point.
I am not a journalist. I barely graduated high school, for Christ's sake. I refer to Mad Libs for the answers to my basic grammar questions. I AM an exuberant monkey who has created a digital forest of mediocrity spanning four years. For every accusation of the blogosphere being nothing more than a glorified sewing circle, there is some group of people starting a rumour that, oh, the vice president elect's child was really her grandchild and some vast right wing conspiracy was forged to cover up the birth. For every criticism that the blogosphere is a financial drain on "legitimate business," there are headache medicine ads pulled and thousands of dollars throw down the tubes on not just the ads but the public apology for the ads because a group of people on Twitter took issue with them.
There are valid points to every criticism, that's all I'm saying. There are always two sides to any story, and I think it's important to attempt to see both sides as often as possible.
The fact that I am an uneducated diarist, however, does not mean that what I do is without meaning. The fact that I choose to put my words onto the internet rather than into a book that gets mailed to a publisher does not make them free pickings for every "respectable journalist" to use at their discretion. The fact that I am not using my words to make a living does not mean that someone else can without my permission.
My point is this: If we are expected to live up to the standards of journalism, then journalists would do well to grace us with the same courtesy. When Don Mills Diva has an interview with a newspaper and a blog post repurposed, distorted and turned into something completely different without so much as a hyperlink for her troubles, I raise an eyebrow at the editors of that news-site. When one citizen journalist more-or-less single handedly broke the biggest story to come out of the psychiatric pharmaceutical world since ECT being deemed inhumane* and subsequently had his work more-or-less stolen for profit, I stand up and take notice. Don Mills Diva and Philip Dawdy are journalists, and they are also bloggers, and if they aren't being handled with the same standards that we as basic, everyday bloggers are supposed to hold ourselves too, there is an issue to be taken. There is a line in the sand being drawn between the old media and the new media, and I am left to wonder if I've simply allowed myself to be intellectually intimidated into believing that perhaps I am the fly in the soup, when it very well may just be the other way around.
One could say that we are filling the internet with drivel, that we are writing and commenting and networking and conferencing merely to boost our own meager ad-share revenue and stats, but honestly, have you sat down and watched a 24 hour news channel lately? Sure, I may do a 7 things meme occasionally, but we had the privilege of listening to 4 hours of critiques about Michelle Obama's dresses on the night of the most significant night in this nation's history. Which is the greater evil, I ask? Which is the greater assault on the collective consciousness, me posting a bunch of pictures every Sunday on my personal blog that almost no one reads or Rick Sanchez getting his material for his major news network show from Facebook and Twitter?
Maybe they're equally as skeevy, but at least I always remember to link back properly.
All I'm saying is this: You know you've made it when you start pissing people off. We bloggers, we're arriving, and holy hell are we making waves. It's important, at least in my mind, to maintain our integrity but just as important is that we insist that the other media outlets do, as well. We have to stand up for ourselves, respect ourselves and each other, and make sure that the proverbial "they" do, as well.
*Molly @ Soapy Water can be thanked for that perfect summation. Just sayin'.