Getting started blogging for me has been kinda like getting your rhythm together to step in and jump rope when you’ve got someone on each end looping that rope ’round and ’round for ya. Just when do you jump in?
Well, I’ve procrastinated long enough and figure it’s time to get with the 2000’s and get bloggin’ with the rest of the media crowd I’ve spent the last 25 years or more hangin’ out with. And to get in step with the so many others who blog, too; some of them for a living and for some smaller number a pretty darned good living at that from what I hear.
So Ed Hartman of NJN’s computer team has been standing by with his end of the rope for months now waiting for me to jump in; setting me up with the blog page I’m writing on now. Thanks, Ed, for your patience and assistance. Here we go.
I’m told or one reads everywhere that this is the “new media” and folks want to engage and offer their own thoughts and opinions and they also like more of a backstory or are interested in having a peek at what goes on inside the shop, especially at a television news operation like ours. Maybe they’d like to read your insights into a story or issue that you can’t or don’t offer on the straight half-hour television news program.
That’s my understanding of what bloggers do and what the public is looking for in a blog. I’ll have to get used to it. We used to call this kind of thing a “column” when I was writing for newspapers back in the ’80s and ’90s; where you got to wax on in ways you couldn’t in a straight news story.
But even with those, you had editors looking over your shoulder; sometimes helping (or hurting) with an edit here and a trim there. Typically, there are also certain days a columnist’s column would appear in the paper; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, say, or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays maybe. Let’s name drop for a moment by way of example, ok? Jimmy Breslin’s probably the most famous of his day when he wrote for different New York papers. Here in New Jersey, on the political front, anyway, two of our best to my mind are Charlie Stile of The Record and Tom Moran of the Star Ledger. There’s also Bob Ingle of Gannett who writes engagingly and has been at this blogging thing a long while (He co-authored that book The Soprano State with Sandy McClure that was on The New York Times best-seller lists for awhile. I joked with Bob that that’s what helped pay for his convertible. Probably did). Paul Mulshine’s column is closely watched by conservatives and others. And then there’s Max (Mad Max) Pizarro, who writes for Politickernj.com and has a sort of Damon Runyan flare about his writing style and himself. There”s Monica Yant Kinney of the Philadelphia Inquirer who keeps a close eye on All Things Jersey, too. And of course my NJN News colleague Zachary Fink has a blog he’s been writing for a long time now that’s gotten a lot of traction on the political front and has become a must-read for his insights. In truth, Zack’s getting out in front of this new media stuff is what enticed me to give it a go.
But my background before trying my hand at television news 15 years ago was newspapering and there you had the constaints mentioned a bit ago here of the editor, ever-glowering over his or her half-glasses, reminding you of column length, deadlines and the like.
And that’s one of the things that had me trying to find my rhythm as I started in on this blogging thing; not only what would I write about, but how often and for how long? No column lengths to adhere to here.
It’s pretty much carte blanche in this new media world from what I can tell. So you’re at liberty to drone on as much as you like and, heck, have fun embarrassing yourself while you’re at it, too. There’s no editor looking over your shoulder; though I suppose our news director, Michael Aron, will let me know if one of you thinks I’m outta line.
Oh and these fun ways of writing like you talk — “outta line,” for example — should be a joy. The old city editors at the Trenton Times would never let you get away with that. Not that I was a regular columnist there, don’t get me wrong. I wrote mostly straight news and features; though there was the Capitol Talk column about State House doings I inherited from others before me that you could have fun with at the paper. There was a rotating column at the Asbury Park Press that we State House reporters shared. And a column at the Philadelphia Business Journal for a few years on all things Trenton.
So now we’ll give this blogging thing a shot. I’ve had enough for tonight, and I’m sure you have too, if you’ve read this far, dear reader.
I’ll get into some topics, issues, news of the day, some of what we’re working on here and why in the days and weeks to come if I’m so blessed to still be around doing this news thing that’s captivated me so these many years.
But I’m going to hold back for awhile on that Twitter thing for now. This new media thing’s got to be taken in small jumps.
And to me, Twittering is kinda like Double Dutch. You ever see the kids doing that on city sidewalks? It’s a feat that’s always fascinated and mesmerized me and involves two — count ’em two! — jump ropes going at once for a jump-roper who’s got to get the timing down to jump in between them and go from there.
This jumping over a single rope has been tough enough to get the timing down on, let alone Double Dutch.