Sunday, April 17, 2005

If an editor writes a blog ...

... Can it be a blog?

That's only a half-joking rhetorical question. William Powers, in his latest National Journal column, raises that tired description of a blog as unedited. (Actually, that is Powers relaying Daniel Froomkin's four-point explanation as to why Froomkin's daily White House Briefing for the Washington Post is not a blog.)

Oh, pshaw. The three other points Froomkin makes are decent enough (though I'd also take issue that a blogger must post continuously; I find one well-thought-out post worth dozens of scattershot short ones), but that edited/not edited thing is balderdash. There's no reason a blogger, if he or she wanted, could not write a post and ask a copy editor to look it over for clarity and general conformance to whatever grammar and style the blogger might want to use. It's still the blogger's writing and thoughts, especially if you hand the thing back to the blogger to accept/reject the proposed changes and to post.

I think we confuse editing with gatekeeping and the top-down approach to editing practiced on so many newspaper (and some magazine) desks. It's clear editing has to change, but more toward a fast-moving collaboration helping the writer achieve what he or she wants, in whatever form. (Which will then unleash the "voice" forces -- is it the voice of the writer or of the "publication" that should be paramount? Of course, if you have your own blog, that's moot. And if you blog for a media organization, that organization is going to have to learn to deal with such things. Give it a generation or less and you'll have a crop of writers who can balance both.)

It's not that things can be "genuine" only if there is no editing. So let's put that puppy to bed, OK? (Oops, I just edited that sentence, moving only from in front of "can" to where it is now. Have I just negated this blog?)

Seriously, though, that's a minor (albeit annoying) point in Powers' good look at how traditional media organizations are starting to blend in new-media techniques. Worth a read.

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