A tale of two papers: The Nashville Scene‘s food critic, Kay West, has not only discovered a great barbecue joint, she’s also discovered what a great writer and small business owner can do with a blog. According to the BBQ blogger, Dr. Funkenswine, Kay doesn’t read blogs — she told him his was the first she’d read. Frankly, I think that’s a good thing as bashing her column is one of the staples of a few Nashville bloggers. (I’d like to go on record as saying I’ve never bashed a column of hers because, like Kay with blogs, I’ve never read a restaurant review.) Anyway, Kay likes the official BBQ joint of the rexblog, so I’m giving her the thumbs up.
However, Liz Garrigan, the Scene’s editor (and someone I like, so, Liz, sorry about what’s to follow), still hasn’t quite grasped this whole blogging thing. First, Liz, pajama jokes are so 2003. And second, why must (if I deconstruct your column correctly) an apparent endorsement of how WKRN is courting bloggers be laced in such cliched condescension? It is ironic to me that an “alternative” newspaper would be standing on the sidelines while in its market, a network-affiliate TV station (for god-sakes!) reaches out to recruit alternative voices and perspectives so it can provide them access to its bandwidth and airwaves — and then determine the bottom line is this: “WKRN’s experiment—not just paying vloggers but its whole new approach to journalism may well flop. But if it pays off, we’ll suddenly see our city through many new eyes. And if nothing else, it beats Judge Judy.”
(In a civil way, how can I put this?) Your city is filled with creative artists and entrepreneurs who are taking up the tools of personal media to launch their careers, to find new audiences, to start and grow businesses. There are hundreds of blogs followed by WKRN’s Nashville is Talking and you seem to be ignoring that on them are insightful and serious (among others that are incoherent and ridiculous) discussions about architecture and education and literature and parenting and barbecue. That the Scene has two weblogs and some podcasts is not the point — that hundreds of your readers are daily sharing their experiences of living and working and laughing and being entertained and entertaining in your city is the point. Please, don’t fall into the trap of confusing blogging with anything that has something remotely to do with journalism school. It has more to do with having the skills to recognize great barbecue when you taste it — and the thrill of sharing the discovery with a few friends. That, and changing the world.