Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Celebrity blogging

So Arianna Huffington is starting a new blog and inviting all the biggest names to blog with her? Funny; I didn't receive my invitation.

What I feared would happen to blogging--that it would become co-opted by those who don't really get it--has begun in earnest.

From the NYTimes:

"She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9."

Here are "the most creative minds" she line up thus far:

Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

Seems like a celebrity c-jerk to me; Just because someone says he/she is a blogger, doesn't mean they are operating in the spirit that makes the blogosphere the place to be for information and content not run through the corporate blender.

According to the Times, Jay Rosen from Pressthink doubts that celebrities would be driven by the same passion that drives many regular bloggers. As Rosen deftly indicated,

"These aren't exactly people who lack voice or visibility in our culture," he said in an e-mail message. "Gwyneth Paltrow has no incentive to speak candidly and alienate future ticket buyers. Barry Diller doesn't have time to hunt down juicy links for his readers. And where does Jon Corzine fit into any conversation those two might be having?"


I blog because in many instances, I don't have a voice in many of the traditional outlets available to Huffington and her well-heeled celebrity friends. When I am allowed to speak, I must carefully follow "the rules" of politeness and tip-toe carefully, so as not to offend. Here, I can try things, work on articles or op eds that might never make it to the mainstream, but certainly should be given an airing. As I am learning firsthand, much of what is rejected by newspaper and magazine editors has little to do with quality and much more to do with acceptability. The parameters of publishing are extremely narrow. Furthermore, in the same way that Gutenberg revolutionized the 15th Century with his printing press, the blogosphere gives a platform to those who lack a voice. Many of those maintaining blogs, would have been the pamphleteers of Gutenberg's day.

Some decry the lack of quality and the randomness of the phenomenom. I personally find that many of the same rules apply here that apply in stand-up comedy, musical performances, or even print media and television. If you don't have anything worth saying, it won't take long before you are found to be a fraud and ultimately, someone's going to heckle you, walk out, or ultimately, turn the page or the channel. Basically, it's the old "put up, or shut up" at work.

Whether or not Huffington, Bill O'Reilly, or even George Bush have a blog (there's a truly scary visual), I'm still going to do what I do because of why I do it. My goals aren't to brighten my star of fame, make money, or induce others to join my undertaking. Make sense?


weasel said...

You can also go to MLB.com and for $49 a year, emulate Tommy Lasorda and blog about baseball (they'll even through in a favorite team logo for free!).
There is always going to be steaming mounds around anything, I guess we are going to have to just get stronger clothes pins.

an orange said...

I hope that it becomes an introduction to blogging for some of those 250 celebrities, and that they go on to start their own real blogs, at least.

Jay Rosen said...

Thanks, Jim. You can take the quote marks off "(I doubt) that celebrities would be driven by the same passion that drives many regular bloggers." That was the author paraphrasing what I said. You could say:

according to the Times, Rosen doubts that celebrities would be driven by the same passion that drives many regular bloggers.

And then use the "these aren't exactly" quote, which is correct.


Jim said...

Good comments. I don't want it to seem like I want blogging to remain the secret purview of some exclusive club.

Having said that, I'm concerned that the things that makes blogging vital--it's immediacy, it's passion (Jay's quote), it's return to something that's been lacking in the journalism community--will begin to fade into the background again, with blogging's co-option by the mainstream machinations of Madison Avenue.

Blogging for me and I'm sure many others, gives us a voice in a way that print media and other avenues no longer provide.