1. Your growth as a writer and blogger this term:
I have to admit that when I started this class, I didn’t know much about blogging. This was the first blog that I had ever created on my own, and the blogs I followed on a regular basis were large, professionally written ones such as huffingtonpost and wonkette. This class became a real process of learning for me and now that we’re at the end of the term, I can see just how far I’ve travelled since it began.
My first challenge was getting my blog setup on wordpress. I had a very difficult time selecting a name. Of course, I wanted something original – a name that would help me bring my own unique identity to the worldwide web. I began reading some of the blogs that my classmates posted, and I felt completely intimidated by them. Their wit, and the originality of their content, made me feel that I had made a mistake in thinking that I could even do well in class, let alone find my own voice and create a blog that people would actually read. Out of curiosity, I began searching out other blogs. The more blogs I read, the worse I felt about my own capabilities to write one of my own.
When we first began writing posts for our blogs, I found myself trying to imitate other blogs that I thought were clever. I have been struggling to write in my own voice for quite some time but, for some reason, I have been unable to bring my own personality to the written page. For one thing, I am a funny person; yet I am unable to write “funny”. Pieces that I thought were witty when written sounded lame and phony when I read them aloud. This only served to make me feel worse about my capabilities as a blogger.
The first assignment that was helpful to me was writing the tagline for my blog. Even though my tagline is rather broad, it still helped me to better define the type of content I would use. It provided the type of flexibility that allowed me to write personal stories if I wanted to without having only a personal journal. I could also tackle subjects that I felt were more controversial. This brought some new ideas, which gave me enough confidence to continue blogging.
The assignment that helped me the most, however, was when we had to begin writing every day. This assignment forced me to broaden my horizons and go after material that I thought was interesting, or amusing, or that I felt needed to be addressed. I began researching several online newspapers, blogs, and other sources of information in order to find subjects that I wanted to write about and share with others. As we progressed into the second week of writing every day, I felt like I had made some headway into discovering my own writing identity. I know that I have not fully reached it yet, and that there is still work that needs to be done before I can express my voice completely. The big difference I can see now is that I feel hopeful that I am moving in the right direction to achieve this goal.
2. What you plan to do with your blog and writing after class is over
I am going to keep my blog after the end of the term, and I plan to write a post every day. I am finding that the more often I write, the more I want to write. Finding material to write about is also becoming much easier for me. In fact, several topics come to me every day through stories I read online, or television shows I watch, or from every day observances about life that I find amusing or ironic.
I have written short fictional stories and I plan to continue to pursue this too. Writing fiction helps me to stretch my imagination and fulfill my need to create. Sometimes it’s therapeutic for me to jump inside another character and write from his or her point of view.
3. What surprised you about your own writing and learning during the course?
Probably the biggest surprise for me is that I have come to believe that I’m close to actually finding my own individual writing voice. I have struggled with this problem for such a long time and there have been times when I thought it was just never going to happen. Before taking this class, I had pretty well decided that I needed to stick with writing fiction because I was just not going to find a way to express myself otherwise. While I’m not quite there yet, I think I’m getting closer.
4. How would you describe your writing voice if you had to explain it to someone else? What’s your tone, your vibe, your personality that comes through?
Currently, I think my writing voice sounds serious and down to earth. I want it to also be witty, but that is something I’m still working on. I really enjoy making people laugh but I have not yet found a way to write “funny”. I think if I keep working at it, I’ll be able to achieve this goal. I need to continue to write as if I’m talking to someone, and not judge myself so harshly. The lack of confidence I have felt in my writing has skewed my opinion of my writing. The longer I continue to blog, the better I think my self-confidence will get.
5. An honest assessment of how much effort, energy and time you put into the course
During the first part of the term, I worked for three or four hours, three days a week. However, as we moved into the weeks of writing every day, I worked for five or six hours every day. I would spend two or three hours researching material that I wanted to include on my blog and that would mean searching online newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other sources that provided daily information that I might find interesting. After that, I would begin to write. This usually took me even longer than the research did because I would do several drafts until I finally obtained the results I wanted. I put a lot of effort into the class because I wanted to gain something good from it. I feel that I gained a great deal from the class and that it will have a profound effect on my writing for years to come.
Ethics for Bloggers
I thought the article that contained the most comprehensive information about the ethical standards a blogger should follow was A Blogger’s Code of Ethics on CyberJournalist.net . However, the theme that seems to be consistent in all of the articles, is that a blogger should be honest and fair, which I agree are two extremely important points to follow.
No matter what type of blog, tweet or internet post a person writes, it should be honest. Spreading lies about people is not a good thing to do. Neither is stealing someone else’s work and calling it your own. In my opinion, not only does this cause harm to others, but it also makes the person posting it look bad. Winning back trust is a lot harder than losing it.
What a person writes should also be fair. When someone writes something egregious about someone else, it mainly shows the character of the person writing it. It may be all fine and good to be the first one to do the reporting, but if the reporting is cruel and inaccurate, the only one who is going to be majorly affected by it in the long run, is the person doing the reporting.
Five Blogs I love:
1. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville.com has some good contributing writers. There are a variety of articles on this site, but they are aimed at a female audience. The topics are interesting to read and also share my point of view. The article that caught my eye was about The Quote of the Day which talked about how Mitt Romney has taken credit for the successful rebound of the auto industry even though there are records reflecting his opposition to President Obama’s bailout of the auto industry. I posted this comment:
I’m glad to see that President Obama is immediately calling Romney on statements like this instead of letting him get away with them. I hope he continues this strategy. The LAST thing we need is another Republican in the White House!
2. Rachel Maddow is one of my favorite reporters. I watch her show and I read her blog The Maddow Blog as often as I can. She is an extremely interesting woman who adds a new dimension to the world of politics. In this particular instance, it was an article written about how Senator Lugar’s re-election defeat is showing that the Republican Party is “beyond redemption. I posted this comment:
While Lugar’s defeat is causing concern, the loss that will convince me that the Republican Party is “beyond redemption” is Orrin Hatch’s. If they vote someone in who is more conservative than Hatch, it’s time to run for the hills!
3. A great blog that provides information for baby boomers is Time Goes By. With various contributing writers, there is always something great to read there. The particular article that caught my attention was penned by Crabby Old Lady. It was about the way that TriMet in Portland paid “respect” to elders during Older Americans Month. I posted this comment:
What is respectful about lumping us all into a ginormous stereotype? I am attending college, and I know that there are other people in our age group that are students too. I’m not ready to settle down to a life filled with crossword
puzzles and I doubt they are either.
If someone is going to “honor elders” doesn’t it make sense that they would at least notice our diversity?
4. Thinkprogress.org is another political blog that I frequent as often as I can. This is a larger blog site and features several different pages full of terrific articles penned by contributing writers. The particular article that grabbed my attention was about how the state of Utah passed a 72 hour waiting period before a woman could receive an abortion and how a study had been conducted showing that the waiting period did not change women’s minds. I posted this comment:
Anyone who believes that adding 72 hours more time before allowing a woman to have an abortion obviously doesn’t understand how much thought the woman has put into the decision to begin with. The person I knew who went through the procedure agonized of the decision. Once she had made up her mind, there was no going back. All this is going to do is add more stress to women. It’s wrong.
5. The last, but not least, blog I got a chance to revisit is Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s blog ApartmentTherapy.com a nice decorating blog with all kinds of information and articles about decorating. The article that caught my attention was about blackout shades. There were some great pictures and also buying resources listed in the article. I posted this comment:
I need to have a lot of privacy in my bedroom because it is located in the front of the house facing the street. I have been trying for months to locate something that is ttractive but also provides a barrier between me and the public. These shades look like they are the perfect solution for the problem. Thanks for posting this information!
Are Bloggers Really Journalists?
There seems to be some controversy over whether or not all bloggers are really journalists. This debate stems from a court case in which blogger Crystal Cox, who proclaimed to be a “research journalist”, was found guilty of defamation after accusing the founder of an investment group of illegal activities.
According to an article in the Seattle Weekly, part of the problem in this case was that Cox said that she couldn’t provide evidence to support her charges because she was a journalist and she couldn’t divulge her sources. However, Judge Marco A. Hernandez ruled that according to Oregon Law, Cox was not a journalist because she wasn’t “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.”
Even though the internet was not even listed as a viable medium in Judge Hernandez’s ruling, I believe that it should have been. Changes need to be made in the law to include online journalists. While I don’t believe that all bloggers fall into this category, I do believe that there are a number of serious, freelance writers and bloggers who do research and develop their stories before they post them. It is important that readers understand that not all bloggers post facts. Many of them provide only their opinions. Generally, these blogs are easy to spot. However, when in doubt, it is best to crosscheck the information against other sources.
Here are my top five blog picks:
1. Shakesville.com: This is an award winning political and cultural blog started in 2004 by Melissa McEwan. I like this blog mainly because the articles are interesting to read, and are focused toward liberal women’s issues. It also provides some fun graphics too. The sitet helps me keep in touch with current events and also gives me a chuckle or two.
2. Decorology: This blog is written by a woman who works as a web designer but enjoys decorating and interior design. The site provides nicely done photos of design concepts along with their magazine source and buying resources. I came across this blog a few months ago on my eternal quest to locate new sources of online decorating ideas. I also like the fact that the site provides links to several other decorating blogs.
3. Writetodone.com: This blog contains articles that provide tips for writers to develop their skills and help them overcome problems that hinder their progress. I like this site because not only are the articles useful, but also because readers are openly encouraged to submit articles to be featured on the site. This is beneficial to me from a creative standpoint because it will help me polish my writing skills. I am also hoping that I will be able to generate readers to the blog I’m creating for this class, as the site posts a link to the guest author’s personal blog site.
4. The Huffingtonpost. com: This mega blog has hundreds of articles daily that range from politics to science and everything in between. The perspective of the site is predominantly progressive/liberal with articles covering general interest and includes guest bloggers and celebrities. I like this site because it keeps me informed about what is happening in just about every topic there is to read about.
5. Wonkette.com: This is a satirical political site that uses humor as a way to discuss current events. I like this site because it is a medium sized community that has its own form of communication. The contributing writers are amusing and often escalate their comments to “one up” each other.