Welcome to Focus Washington. With that said, I have officially become a blogger. It is something I have resisted. As a life-long print journalist, I have always understood and quoted the wise words of Samuel Johnson: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” Writing is too difficult to just give away, and those of us who have devoted our efforts to print have failed to understand the lure of electronic letters on a video screen written for personal satisfaction and not financial gain. There is, of course, immeasurable gratification to seeing ones words of wisdom on paper or monitor screen, offering them to the unenlightened world. It is the illusion that someone out there cares what I have to say, but now that I no longer have a regular print outlet, the blogging world is looking more inviting.
It is true that writing, an often painful process, brings with it sometimes recognition, sometimes criticism, and more often vain, ego satisfaction. But like running for political office, no one would undergo the lengthy, exhausting effort if there wasn’t a pleasurable public celebrity at the end. Enough of this self-indulgent, apologetic verbiage, I have capitulated and I am now a blogger. I read with interest a recent Atlantic Monthly article, “Why I Blog,” by thoughtful journalist Andrew Sullivan. He wrote that, “…as blogging evolves as a literary form, it is generating a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that’s enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before. Its truths are provisional, and its ethos collective and messy. Yet the interaction it enables between writer and reader is unprecedented, visceral, and sometimes brutal. And make no mistake: it heralds a golden era for journalism.”
Sullivan is more profound and sold on the blogging concept than I ever expect to be, but there are salient points in this sprint, free form writing I’m not ready to even title journalism, let alone a golden era for journalism. I still am uncomfortable with the raw emotions of many bloggers who write without reporting or any concern about truth or facts. Like our judicial system, the truth is expected to emerge in the ever observant blogosphere. I might churlishly point out that the truth sometimes doesn’t win out in our legal system.
I can see that blogs give the writer freedom from the tyranny of tin-eared, timid editors. And from time to time every professional writer has experienced those editors. I believe in editors, however, and have depended on their guidance, and most of the time, they have saved me from stupid mistakes. The guidance is often a simple, “How do you know this?” But, the most disheartening thing that destroys the confidence and productivity of a writer is an editor who just doesn’t get it or who wants to impose himself on the writer, and every professional writer has suffered this. Sullivan has convinced me that a blog frees me from that oppression. I can say what I want to say without some editor saying, “You can’t say that.” I will, however, have no excuse when I make mistakes or look stupid, but I’ve often made mistakes and have looked stupid more times than I can remember and have recovered from the embarrassment.
I have actually been video blogging for a couple of months over youtube.com/focuswashington. The videos will now also be part of the www.focuswashington.com blog. I will continue to do these video interviews that in the past have included Susan Eisenhower, talk show host Bill Press, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer, federal budget expert Stan Collender and Democratic Party strategist Rich Masters. In this expanded blog, I will be returning to my more comfortable print side and will be commenting on a range of subjects such as Washington politics, as well as my experiences around the city. There will be times I will even write about cultural events, write theater reviews or comment on a restaurant I like or don’t like or where you can get the most value or the least value for your money. This being a blog, I can write about anything I want with no editor grumbling, “no one is interested in what you have to say about that.” I am already learning to love the self-indulgence of blogging. I invite scrutiny and criticism.
I have already broken the blog rule to keep it quick and brief. It will also take me some time to be comfortable ignoring Samuel Johnson’s sage advice.