Do you blog? Or maybe you twitter? (And as someone said the other day, does that make one a twit?)
I don’t do either, for me it’s hard enough to write this occasional column, but evidently I’m in the minority.
Blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, according to most. Everybody has an opinion and they are not afraid to share it, especially if they can remain anonymous.
As for twitter – to be truthful I’m really not sure what that is. I just heard about it a few weeks ago and now it seems as if that’s all everybody’s talking about. Newscasters are “twittering” with viewers; there’s supposedly even a mounting problem with jurors “twittering” with outsiders during court cases, causing some cases to be thrown out.
And people are evidently blogging and twittering about their every move – what they had for breakfast, what their day was like, what they wore, etc.
Excuse me, but I just don’t think anyone wants to hear (or read) about what I had for breakfast or wore to work, etc. and I don’t feel the need to tell anyone about it. Who has time (or feels the need) to read or write about all that stuff?
I grew up on the “party line” which I guess in itself could be a form of twittering or blogging, since if you weren’t careful what you said, it could be broadcast faster than the speed of the internet all over the community. (Those of you who remember party lines know exactly what I mean.)
As far as the written word, I’ve always thought that it held little value unless it had your name applied to it. For example, if you write an editorial for this newspaper, you must provide your name, address and phone number for verification purposes. But you can comment all the livelong day on websites (including ours) as “anonymous.”
But two commentators on CBS’s Sunday Morning this week had a different point of view. These two fellows, Josh Landis and Mitch Butler, are of the opinion that today’s news business is starting to look surprisingly like the old days.
As an example, they pointed to America’s first multi-page newspaper, “Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick,” which was published in Boston in 1690. It had three typed pages, with the fourth and last page left blank. According to them, this was done on purpose so readers could add their own comments about the stories or their own news items and pass their copy along to their neighbors and friends.
The paper was supposed to be published monthly or “if any glut of occurrences happen, oftener.” But, unfortunately, that first issue was the only “glut of occurrences” allowed to be printed. The government shut it down because it contained “reflections of a very high nature,” whatever that means, and because the publisher had failed to obtain a license. In other words, the powers that be didn’t like it.
It was 14 years before the next newspaper was printed and after the Revolution the advent of the primitive printing press allowed the newspaper industry to grow, with advertisers on board to foot the bill.
And their views do have some merit. For example, old issues of The Danielsville Monitor contain world and national news, and sometimes the latest scandal. News was often written in a manner we would consider litigious today, with details that definitely fall into the category of unverified, at best. The bulk of the paper contained numerous advertisements, along with a slew of community doings (and some gossip) from every corner of the county, usually without mention of who the author was.
So here we are over 300 years later and newspapers as we know them are becoming a product of the past.
But, I guess there’s also the idea that everything old is new again. As Landis and Butler pointed out, “first there were many voices, then there were a few, now there are many again” all telling their opinions and stories, just in a new format. Only time will tell what this new age of blogging, twittering and “facebooking” and the like will bring, and whether we’ll be the better, or worse, for it.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.