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To blog or not to blog


It strikes me, as I read a lot of blogs centered on business and economics, that blogging done right does a tremendous amount to increase the credibility and skill of the writer. I read a reference to this article, and went go check out the original.

I was rather shocked partway through the piece to read this:

…when we listen now to a jazz standard by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, or Hoagy Carmichael, we are struck most of all by the innocence of the idiom—the last time, perhaps, that old-fashioned, monogamous marriage was celebrated in our music!

I was immediately jarred out the flow. Did he decide to completely ignore country music? Surely not; the deep relationship between country music and southern soul music could not be unknown to him, and he’s talking about soul and jazz. Did he forget about gospel music? He went on about the critical importance of Christian institutions and the way censorship affected the path of musical expression. Sure gospel tradition has done the same. Again, the connection between jazz and gospel could hardly be new to him.

Immediately I wanted to leave a comment: Did you mean to exclude country music, Christian music and the like? How could he say that in the wake of artists like Ray Charles, who bridged all those genres with jazz and soul? Or Chris Daughtry, who bridges rock and country with a powerful pro-family message today?

But there is no comments field. Indeed, no way to write back to the author at all.

Granted, it’s a small part of an otherwise good scholarly article. But blog readers know that sometimes the genius is in the comments, especially when the author engages with the readers. By addressing counterpoints, the author sometimes brings excellent new material to support the thesis, or they are  forced to admit that they wrote a statement without as much backing as they thought. And at its best, the comments are a forge where new ideas are shaped.

The sharp edge created in this tempering by fire will be the standard by which future journalists are judged. I feel quite confident that by the time Julian Sanchez and Scott Lincicome have their time on the national stage of journalism, they will be vastly better writers for having dealt with the blogosphere.  And ready to face their critics in a way that past journalists were not.

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