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The Rules of Blogging

August 1, 2007

I've now been a culture blogger for 7 months. Seems like a good time to look back and think about what I've learned about this medium.

One of the biggest shocks I got soon after starting to write this blog was the notion that there are people out there who are actually reading me. This came as quite a surprise. It continues to astonish me, actually, given the size of the blogosphere and the sheer amount of information out there. I fill a niche as a Bay Area culture blogger. But there are literally hundreds of arts blogs in the U.S, many of them written by very prominent cultural pundits from The New Yorker's Alex Ross to Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal. Given that people are actually paying attention...

...bloggers need to behave responsibly. Given the speed at which blog postings are written and assembled, it's sometimes easy to forget the rules of journalism. People call me when I make mistakes. I'm really glad they do, though often the errors are as a result of simple carelessness on my part. Blogging should be treated every bit as seriously as writing an opinion piece or feature article for a major national publication. Bloggers need to be good self-editors and apply the same levels of rigor to their approach as they would for any professional journalistic assignment. This means checking facts, paying attention to grammar, syntax and spelling, telling a compelling story and writing in a way that can be understood by the reader.

I've gotten myself into trouble a few times when people in the arts industry have read my blog and been unhappy about being mentioned or quoted in my postings. Because conversations with these people sometimes end up being captured on my blog, I need to be careful about what I write. If a source has disclosed sensitive information, it's best to check with them first if it's OK to write about it. In fact, there's a case to be made for checking in with sources even if the material seems pretty incocuous. Another way around the issue is to avoid mentioning specifics like names where necessary.

The number of times I've found out a scoop or heard a fascinating story, thought about an interesting topic, or had a great conversation with someone about a pressing cultural issue but failed to blog about it is beyond my ability to count. The beautiful thing about this medium is the lack of gatekeepers. I have the power to write about whatever I want -- and quickly too. A blog is a great place to launch ideas, suggest solutions and grapple with the status quo without spending weeks debating with an editor whether there's enough of a "story" in a subject to merit publishing it in a regular media outlet.

I thought keeping a blog five days a week would be an impossible chore. At the start, I doubted whether I'd keep it up past the end of January. Actually, I enjoy it. It helps rev me up in the morning and get my brain in gear for a day or writing.

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is interacting with my readers. I don't get a whole lot of comments, at the moment but I've enjoyed corresponding with those that do choose to get in touch. After all, that's ultimately what this is all about: generating debate.


  • Cool, Chloe! You know that I love your blog and I am one of your dedicated readers! Keep it up, and thanks for reminding me of "The Rules."--Kristin

    By Blogger Kristin Tieche, At August 2, 2007 at 11:16 AM  

  • thanks Kristin
    very sweet of you to say so

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At August 2, 2007 at 11:56 AM  

  • Dear Queenie,

    Please do not behave too responsibly. The closer you get to your own truth, what you really think or feel, the more universal your words will be. And be brave. Seriously brave. Careful, but not so careful that you censor yourself. Of course you might not want to write something about somebody you wouldn't say to their face. What flows through our minds and what we communicate tend to be different rivers that the web enables a crossing of. Do I want to know what is on your mind every morning? Probably not every morning. And I don't have too. But when I am curious you create an intelligent diversion, and often a new place or thing to do. And I learn something about you. That is where the fun is.

    I suppose if your blog tells us more, which is the mark of all great art, about you, then it is worth the price of admission. It could be that your readers responses, if they dare respond, represent an attempt at an acknowledgment of an affinity of some sort. Not unlike saying, I put a Rothko on my wall because I understand Rothko. I dare them to respond more.

    And I dare you to be more truthful. Without fear. Nine tenths of the way is purgatory. All the way will set you free. Good luck.

    Mr. Stick

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 2, 2007 at 1:32 PM  

  • Absolutely with you there, Chloe. And yes, conversations are probably the best part of blogging.

    By Blogger Alison Croggon, At August 2, 2007 at 7:54 PM  

  • Mr. Stick
    You are my gadfly. I think I was in a particularly pinched mood the day I penned that blog post. I'd gotten into trouble with a source over something I wrote in my blog a couple of weeks ago and for some reason took stuff to heart. I don't always behave in the fashion of a puckered asshole. Your comments, as always, are valued.

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At August 3, 2007 at 12:08 PM  

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