Join The Conversation!
Godd: So Kim...
Kim: What up Till?
Godd: We've gotta give them what they want.
Kim: What's that G?
Godd: Well, Christie Blatchford wrote this batshit insane column where she tells bloggers to get off her lawn and compares Rosie DiManno to a highly trained surgeon. We've gotta break 'em off something.
Kim: Hell yeah
Godd: And it's gotta be bumpin!
Kim: CITY OF COMPTON!
Godd: Alright. Lets get to the crazy:BEIJING -- The unofficial end to journalism as I know it may have come earlier this week, when my Globe and Mail sporty colleague Matt Sekeres and I were at the triathlon venue in the north end of the city, waiting for the event to start.
Kim: Shit dude. These Olympics have got everything: Michael Phelps, that Paraguayan javelin lady, Usain Bolt, and, apparently, the Journopocalypse.
Godd: I prefer Armediageddon.
The race was about an hour away when young Mr. Sekeres said the five words I have most come to dread: "I'm going to blog this." And he did - and on the 18th day of the eighth month in the year 2008, so it must be a lucky omen.
Kim: I thought the five words Christie would most dread would be "Al Strachan is coming over."
Godd: No, it's later when he says '"I had another couch accident."
Kim: How about "Police guilty in brutality case."
Godd: "Dead child expected to recover."
It was posted on The Globe's Games Blog at 10:23 a.m., Beijing time. Mr. Sekeres wrote three paragraphs about the excellent weather, the setting and that soon he and I would be heading down to the race course. The headline read, "Under Thatch with Blatch."
Godd: That sounds fucking horrible.
Kim: Tell me about it. I always imagined that a day out with Christie Blatchford would involve spending a few hours ghoulishly circling the corpses of dead children like a vulture.
I'm not sure if my hair burst into flames, but I wanted to burn something down.
Mr. Sekeres is a fine writer and engaging company. This isn't about him. He was merely doing what everyone - from paid professional writer to Olympian to the average guy in the stands - does now. He was committing his most idle thoughts and mundane observations if not to paper, then to its modern equivalent, a blog.
Kim: Hmmm. Idle thoughts...mundane observations...throw in some mash-notes to the troops and fawning over cops and you've got a Christie Blatchford column.
It is the modern way, but at the blogging Olympics - and these are the blogging Games, as Sydney marked the first all-out Web Games - with 20,000 journalists in the same approximate place, it is impossible to overlook the phenomenon and difficult not to participate. Let us now conjugate blog: I blog, I have blogged, I will blog.
Or rather, after a few desultory efforts in the early going here, let me say that I shall not blog. It is not because I take a principled stand against blogging. It's not that I don't love the Web. It's not that I'm a Luddite, or at least not just that I'm a Luddite.
It's that, as Michael Farber, the great Montreal sportswriter and Hockey Hall of Famer who works for Sports Illustrated, said the other day on a bus, "I have only a finite number of words in me." He is guarding what's left, properly determined not to squander them.
Godd: Really? Only a finite number of words in you? So each homerrific Habs piece from Farber or 5,000 word eyeglazer on your latest pedicure brings us one step closer to the magical day where, out of words, you two flop around like fish on a beach, able to communicate only in pictograms and the arrangement of small rocks? Righteous.
The Internet has completely changed the way reporters do business. That much we know.
A Canadian Press colleague saw me in a scrum the other day with my notebook out; he was stricken with nostalgia. "I can't remember the last time I used a notebook," he said. "It's all video now."
Godd: Oh, for the halcyon days of notebooks, typewriters, lovable scamps mining for coal and having our teeth pulled with no anaesthetic.
Since arriving in Beijing, the workhorses of Team Globe here - the sportswriters - have filed 24/7 to the website, blogged, done "podcasts" (I did, too, but haven't a clue what it was), and, oh yes, written for the actual newspaper, which is trickier than it might seem given that the 12-hour time difference means there is usually almost no news element to the stories we write for the paper.
It's the same for everyone.
Michael Phelps's last swim, as with all swim finals thanks to NBC, took place in the morning here, prime time back home. It meant that most Canadian papers could just barely squeak into the next day's editions the news of his record eighth gold. Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star was poolside; she had five whole minutes to write and file the story. It does not make for thoughtful copy.
Kim: Five minutes!?! How is Rosie supposed to mock the way Chinese people speak and insult their culture in a mere five minutes?
Ms. DiManno's work ethic is legendary. When I remarked to her colleague Doug Smith that she had written five stories one day last week, he grinned and said, "Well, the paper has five sections." On one of those multistory days, Ms. DiManno got a snarky comment about one of them on the Star website, "comments" being the remarks Web readers are encouraged to post about the stories they read.
Kim: I can only imagine how awesome this snarky comment must have been.
Godd: OH HELLS YES BRING DOWN THE THUNDER OF A THOUSAND ROFLCOPTERS
"This feels more like a blog post, Rosie. A good blog, but a lame article," wrote someone identified only as HEC30.
Kim: You suck, HEC30.
Godd: Seriously, what the fuck was that?
You see? Everyone's a writer now. Everyone's an editor. It's as if the College of Physicians and Surgeons not only encouraged patients to read all the medical websites, but also to do their own diagnoses.
Kim: I think that would be fucking brilliant, though my moms might get pissed about all that blood on the shag carpet. How about you, Dr. Till?
Godd: Can't talk now. I'm on my way into surgery. Get me 10ccs of Fresca stat.
Kim: Sorry Dr. Till. I think it is too late. It would take a team of surgeons 18 hours to remove Ms. Blatchford's foot from her mouth after this one.
This is the democratization wrought by the Web, and if it has actually helped open up closed societies such as China's, in the West its chief effect, at least upon journalism, is to diminish whatever craft, and there is some, is left in the business.
Kim: I see no evidence of this, whatsoever. Defending the craft of journalism with such a poorly constructed sentence is like defending the state of NHL goaltending with an Andrew Raycroft clip reel.
Godd: Stop trawling for comments. But, yeah, Christie has done a breathtaking job of proving this point over the last couple decades.
Kim: Can I borrow Armin's copy of Swank?
It is not true that anyone can write on deadline. It is not true that anyone can do an interview. It is not true that anyone can edit themselves and sort wheat from chaff. It is not true that even great productive writers like The Globe's Jim Christie or Ms. DiManno or Mr. Farber can hit a home run every time they sit before the laptop. But the odds of them doing it are greatly increased if they haven't already filed 1,200 words to the Web, shot a video, done a podcast and blogged ferociously all day long.
Godd: Fun fact - doing something over and over again makes you worse at it. Christie can't believe we're sitting here talking about PRACTICE.
When my cohort first started out, we would get actual letters, often written in beautiful handwriting on creamy stationery. These readers went to some trouble to communicate with us, and usually we tried to write back. Then came e-mails, and though obviously they required less effort, in the early days they tended to be thoughtful, and most of us also tried to answer them. Then the volume became overwhelming, pseudonyms became common and sometimes, if you answered a note, you would learn later that your answer to one anonymous stranger had been posted somewhere, or e-mailed to 20 other people you didn't know.
And now there is blogging, and comments. Readers may take 30 seconds to post a comment on a story or blog item that a writer dashed off in a minute. On The Globe website, our slogan is "Join the Conversation," but in the blogosphere, what follows isn't usually a conversation but a brief, ungrammatical shouting match. You can have more pensive chats in a bar fight.
KimJorn676: WHATEVER YOU RACIST OLD WINDBAG WHO NOES NOTHING ABOUT JACK_SH*T EXCEPT HOW TO LOVE COPS AND SOLDIERS AND HATE PEOPLE WHO ASRENT WHITE COPS. LOLZZZ!!!!11!!
Godd: WHO THE F*CK IS SHE %TO SAY THAT SH*T IS UNGRAMMATICAL CAUSE I HEARD TJHAT THE COPYEDDITORS AT THE GLOB AND MAIL WON"T TOUCH HER WORK BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE IT WUS WRITEN BY AN WRETCHED HACK WHO NEVER MEYT A RUN-ON SENTENCE THAT SHE DIDN"T LOVE AS MUCH AS A STORY ABOUT A DEAD CHILD BORN OF A COP AND A SOLDIER WITH A CROWN PROSECUTOR AS GODPARENT AND 19 GUYS NAMED MUHAMMAD IN THE DOCK.. FTW ROFLOPOGOUS
KimJorn676: ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
GoddLooseNiqqels: YOU WANNA GO ME?!?!? DGSI UTIUGJHXKJS YIAU)(&*( OIHH NN <.
KimJorn676: YEAAAAAHHHHHH BOYZ!!!!!!
GoddLooseNiqqels: 911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB U SHEEP ASK DR RON PAUL:#
And journalism wasn't meant to be a conversation, anyway. It was maybe a monologue, at its most democratic a carefully constructed dialogue.
Godd: And blogging is not meant to be journalism. Did you know that you can eat apples and oranges and not die? It's true!
If readers didn't like or agree with the monologues in paper A, they bought paper B. What was most important about their opinions was that they thought enough to spend the coin.
Godd: So if I didn't like the genteel right-wingery of the Globe, I could treat myself to the US-style right-wingery of the Post, or the mouth-breathing Cro-Magnonry of the Toronto Sun. I was free from the heavy burdens of critiquing or opining on the wisdom Christie, Rebecca Edler, Lorne Gunter, and Michael Coren brought down the mountain every morning. It truly was a Golden Age. But woe is us, we wrote the forbidden blog and now we have been cast into the wilderness. Now we wander the wastelands of our mom's basements, with only our DSL connection and back issues of Frank Magazine to guide us on our way.
Most important, Michael Farber is right. We all have a limited number of things to say, informed opinions, funny lines, quirky observations. We have only so many words in us. Do we really want to spend them on something as ephemeral as a blog?
Godd: As opposed to a newspaper like the Globe and Mail, every issue of which, like the works of Proust, lives forever, peed on by cats, thrust into campfires, and slept under by homeless people.
Kim: You know what isn't nearly as disposable as a newspaper? The internet. It's true. I can just do a simple google search and find this classic piece of racist buffoonery that Christie wrote a couple years ago. I'll let the readers check it out themselves rather than taint this site with her vile and delusional ramblings, but I'll be surprised if many of them get past the part where she compares Muslim women to rats.
I have written some astonishingly banal columns in my life, and some very personal ones. I am the last person in the world who should object to blogging, but I do.
Kim: I have written some astonishingly mean-spirited blog posts in my life, and some very ignant ones. I am the last person in the world who should object to a mean-spirited and ignant columnist, but I do.
The thing that I know, as all the editors I have had also know, is what I didn't get to confide or write or commit to paper, because someone else had the good sense to put on the brakes. There are no brakes, and thus there is no joy, in blogville.
Kim: For Luddite Christie has struck out.
Godd: This would have been a good column, but it's a lame blog entry.