Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Blog or newspaper article... What’s the difference?

Leicester Mercury The Leicester Mercury is one of the largest local newspapers in the UK with an estimated daily readership of almost 200,000. It features a mix of local and national news plus items of local interest which, last Friday, included an article by me. It was my blog posting called Strictly Limited Experience but seeing it published on the pages of the Leicester Mercury made me feel uncomfortable and I’m not sure why. It’s not as if this was my first published article. That happened way back in the 1990s when The Lady published an article about my involvement in a local bird count. I admit I was ecstatic at the time but I’ve had many articles published since then so why did this feel different?


It could be because the piece was never intended to be a newspaper article. I know that this blog can be read by anyone in the word but it’s my blog and I can choose to talk about whatever I wish. When I received a copy of the paper I scrutinised the article for any social gaffe or misdemeanour that I may have committed. I’ve yet to find out if the mother of the boy who wanted to see a close up of the goal during his first trip to live football has recognised herself. It may be that she doesn’t mind being written about. Mum expressed surprise at being discussed in her local paper even though she had no objections to being mentioned in my blog. Maybe we’ve lulled ourselves into a false sense of security. I mean, I’m only talking to myself here and you lot don’t really exist... do you?


Hang on! You must exist because I can hear you all asking, ‘If it was never intended to be a newspaper article how come it was in last Friday’s edition?’ Good question and the answer is Twitter. I was tweeting away late Sunday night with several of my local Twittermates. They were agreeing with me about the issues of accessibility at that particular venue when the editor of the Leicester Mercury tweeted me an offer to publish it as a First Person article. Of course, I agreed but this was gone 11 pm and it was all rather surreal. I felt more reassured when he emailed me during working hours to confirm but, and here’s a note to all those friends who think I waste my time on Twitter, I certainly have Twitter to thank for it being published.


So, has the article reached a wider audience? The Editor promised that it would and I’m not disputing it but I have no proof. The good thing about a blog is that people who read and appreciate my words will spend a few moments adding a comment at the bottom. Non-bloggers can’t ever understand how much that means to a blogger. I wondered if the article would increase my local blog following but so far it hasn’t. Mind you, at Mum’s day centre a well-thumbed copy was being passed from table to table and it was suggested that, as it really did read quite well, I might think of becoming a writer. I smiled politely. They probably think that all writers walk around with a quill in their hand and a whimsical look in their eye... but that’s another blog story.

15 comments:

  1. Rosalind, don't you just love people's expectations of what it means/looks like to be a writer? Your image definitely got a snort of laughter from me this morning.

    I remember reading your post about the disability accessibility issues at the theatre, and I do hope your article sparks enough of a conversation that something gets done about that, for the good of a those who'd like to attend in the future. One thing I remember well from my time as a newspaper editor was being required to write short, tight sentences with a vocabulary designed for a sixth-grader -- as that was the level generally supposed for a u.s. reader, sadly. My blog allows me much more flexibility and artistic freedom, and I can see how the two are quite different media. Thank goodness! :)

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  2. Maybe blogs are an evolution of the newspaper columnist?

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  3. I can identify with your feelings, there does seem to be a difference between seeing your words on your blog and then seeing them in paper in the 'real world'! - especially in a newspaper that you are used to seeing, to reading.

    I don't know why this should be, but when I read this post I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would feel that way too.

    By the way, recently I found an old cut out article that written by my Grandad and published in the Leicester Mercury years back about his time in the home guard - it was strange seeing his face again after so many years. . .

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  4. Your article reached a readership of 200,000 from your statistics so unless your blog gets as many hits then you've certainly reached a wider audience.
    Many of my long blog posts are unsold articles and I try and sell them first before posting. I had an interesting experience recently. I wrote a very time-sensitive obit. and offered it only to a couple of online sites that change their material regularly. It was refused as they were preparing their own article/ obituary so I posted it on my blog.
    Two days later one of the sites came back and asked if they could put it on their blog which contains more daily commentary on life. Even though I told him it was already on my blog he still published it and paid for it.

    As far as comments are concerned, it's always nice to get them but unfortunately for me, most of my readers are not bloggers or writers and can't be bothered to work their way round the rather unclear instructions for commenting and they find it far easier to just send me a personal email.

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  5. Well, I guess this shows me one use of twitter which I have been really doubting has any uses at all. I know what you mean about blog posts. They seem so like writing in one's journal that we can easily forget they're public.

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  6. Thanks, Meredith, I'd like to think that the article might make a difference to the accessibility issue... perhaps.

    Hi Kerryn, I always wanted to be a newspaper reporter when I was a kid. Maybe that's why I love writing this blog.

    Thanks for the visit, Susannah. How exciting finding an article written by your Grandad.

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  7. Hi Ann, I often wonder whether the work we put on our blogs is considered to have been 'published'. I sent an article to Yours magazine over a year ago and they accepted it last month. In the meantime I had given up on them and used it for a blog. I told them and expected a withdrawal but they said it didn't matter. And I too have friends who don't like to comment in this box. It's a difficult one that.

    Thanks for the visit, Karen. I admit that most of my time spent on Twitter is not really furthering a writing career but it only takes one tweet contact from say a publisher for it to have been worthwhile... and it's good fun too.

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  8. Love the reaction of the folks at your mum's centre - so typical. Non-writers have very limited ideas of what we really do! :) Congrats on having the article published - that's really awesome!

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  9. Thanks Jemi and yes, Mum's friends are lovely but they haven't a clue about writing.

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  10. Great story, and another reason I wish I understood Twitter more! There is something freaky about being in the local paper and knowing that people you may actually run into in real life have read it. I think that's the difference.
    As for live versus TV expectations: I'm always thrilled when I go to a musical, like Wicked. I try for a seat up close and marvel at how "3D" everything looks! My husband is always shaking his head over my idiocy.

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  11. Hi Lorel, Twitter's fun as long as you follow people with similar interests to yourself. I know what you mean about being up close at a musical... and husbands are meant to shake their heads in that way at us females. It's a Venus/Mars thing ;-)

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  12. You strike a certain relationship with your blog readers through the comments, so feel comfortable when you write it, as if you were simply chatting to a few friends. But, as you say, absolutely anyone can read it, so we're in a false bubble, and we sometimes need to be reminded of this.

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  13. I know what you mean about writing for a blog and a newspaper. I sometimes forget that my blog is open to all eyes! When I see a newspaper in a shop, or someone reading it in a cafe, I'm reminded that in fact people are reading my stuff. It can feel a little weird, so very much identify with you on that one!

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  14. Hi Sarah and Olive. Yes a blog is like chatting to friends... but friends who live all over the world. That's what I really love about it.

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  15. Congrats, Rosalind! Gosh, you have to love Twitter, don't you? I've made so many connections through blogs and Twitter that helped me so much when it came time to publicise my book... but more than that, it's a great support system for writers. It is easy to forget, though, that everything you say there is in the public domain!

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