Writing Wrongs: 2 views on bloggers
Welcome to 2 Views, where justb asks two great writers to illuminate an issue. This week we’re looking at over-sharing, the media , bloggers and issues Sunday Life raised by publishing this article about bloggers which contained inaccuracies …
EDIT, 5.46pm : the original piece does not seem to be online at The Age anymore : you can view it here, for now.
UPDATE, 6.46pm: Blogger Eden Riley has tweeted about the article being taken down.
justb did contact Julietta Jameson for a response to the online fallout from the article, but she declined to comment.
FIRST VIEW: Rachael Oakes-Ash
Rachael Oakes-Ash has written two books Good Girls Do Swallow and Anything She Can Do I Can Do Better. She has been a journalist for fifteen years on radio, print and TV and created the Snow It All blog on the SMH and The Age. She trains PR professionals on dealing with media world with her PitchIt2Me business.
Twitter and Facebook is alive today with collective comments about a piece published in Sunday Life magazine about the rise of ‘mummy blogging’ – a term that irks the world of bloggers who happen to be mothers. After all, no-one says mummy journalist or mummy politican do they?
I was interested to read why this niche publishing platform of bloggers have such a dedicated following and wasn’t surprised to learn it’s all about ‘disclosure’. When you disclose your private moments it gives other women, readers, a feeling of connection that they are not alone. Hey, it worked for Oprah; it worked for Dooce; it even worked for newsreader Georgie Gardiner on the cover of this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly.
Why wouldn’t a lifestyle blogger want to be included in a Sunday Life piece about blogging? It’s warm, fuzzy and will build their profile, right? Stand by, there’s more to it.
I imagine Sunday Life’s talented writer, Julietta Jameson, an established and respected journalist with four books and twenty years of published writing under her belt, making notes, recording interviews and building a narrative for a story that has a defined word limit.
But that’s the difference between a blog post and a magazine article. One has no word count, doesn’t always require research outside of personal experience and is usually the voice of just one person. The other can take anything from a day to a month to a year to research, has a defined word count, various voices and an editor and publisher to report to.
Trouble is the latter also had a fact-checking problem that sent the blogosphere into a vocal outpour. There lies the problem.
The piece stated that one blogger, Eden Riley, experienced a drug relapse in February last year and didn’t get clean again until September. False. Eden stated in her blog, Edenland, today that she relapsed for a weekend in February and was then on and off anxiety medication until September. Oops.
It also stated that another blogger, Naomi Pritchard Tiller’s father died of cancer. Also false, Naomi’s father is alive today. Oh dear.
But let’s be honest. One thing the four bloggers in question agree on in their response posts today is that they “shared too much” or “rambled”. But isn’t that what they do on their blogs by self admission – over share and disclose? Plus they think were being interviewed for a press piece and in this fame-obsessed world of supposedly media savvy people you can’t really think your revealing stories are not going to be used. Julietta is a talented and good interviewer for a reason, it’s why she wins awards.
It’s the same reasons bloggers overshare on their blogs, but you can’t overshare and then have a go at the journalist who printed your oversharing and you can’t call someone a tabloid journalist without understanding the process and the number of people it takes to get a piece to print, which is far more detailed than simply pressing ‘publish’ on a self-published blog.
I have been on both sides of the media – first as a journalist, radio announcer and TV interviewer and second as an author on book tour being interviewed by journalists, radio announcers and TV interviewers. I learned, through my own desire to be liked, that over-disclosing, especially without other people’s permission, only backfires on you. I overshared in my books long before blogging let anyone do it in public. I get it, and so does my therapist.
But there’s a difference to reporting and being reported on – one has the perception of your own control the other has none. It is a lesson I suspect these women have now learned. Hopefully it’s a lesson the bean counters at Fairfax — who outsource the sub editing and fact-checking — have also learned.
I hope it hasn’t put these bloggers off because I thought nothing less of them, nor of their profession, after reading the Sunday Life piece and am flummoxed by anyone who would?
The whole point of this style of blogging, and of the article written, is to reveal human flaws so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. That’s why these bloggers are, and will continue to be popular. No one likes a perfect woman.
Blogging is a funny thing, isn’t it? We bloggers share bits and pieces of our lives, the good and the bad for everyone to read, while we tap away from the comfort of our own homes.
Personally, I’ve shared stories that in the past only my closest friends were privy to, opening them up for people all over the Universe to read. There will always be people that don’t quite get it. Airing one’s dirty laundry in public? Who’d do it? Bloggers would. I would. And I and have.
My girlfriend is one of those people that don’t get it. She often asks, “Why on earth would you share that?”
Why? Because in a world where everything seems to airbrushed to perfection and sensationalised, there needs to be reality. Newspapers will bring us the news, mostly factual with a jazzed up headline and gory details to draw us in. Magazines will show us stinkin’ rich celebs who we often have nothing in common with, as much as they try to make them relevant. And then there’s bloggers.
Bloggers will (mostly) tell you as it is. Show you as it is. We’ll share words from the heart, tears falling as we type away. We’ll tell the stories of parenting difficulties, marriage problems, issues from childhood and personal struggles, without the sexy cover lines or perfect photos to sell you the story. We’ll share the good times, the achievements, the personal triumphs, which aren’t akin to winning an Oscar or a Nobel Peace Prize, but just as satisfying and more real too. Bloggers aren’t motivated by big bucks or pleasing the corporate powers, our currency is human connection. We write because we care, because we want to connect.
What you often don’t see, beyond the blogs, is the reaction from the readers. I could print a beautiful book of the letters I’ve received. Some long, some short, most of them stating something along the lines of, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
When I’m having a tough day and I want to know I’m not alone. Perhaps the baby was awake all night, I didn’t get a wink of sleep, I feel frumpy and not myself, I don’t want to turn to a magazine and read about how Tori Spelling is doing it tough too. To me, that’s not real. I want to connect with someone just like me, a blogger. Someone who tells it how it is. Easy. Simple.
So there’s traditional media, and then there’s us, bloggers. Just as important, complimenting each other, creating light and shade.
So, next time you read a blog post, when someone reveals perhaps a little too much, just think that for someone, somewhere, it might be just enough.
What do you think? Are you careful with the facts and what you share? Do you read any of the blogs mentioned in the Sunday Life piece?