Interestingness is in the eye of the beholder

Charts give blog posts
more interestingness.

I’m catching up from a couple weeks of travel, so apologies for belatedly linking to this post from Roy Peter Clark on Poynter.org. It’s a fan-post regarding “a young reporter and Nieman fellow named Josh Benton” who “offered the most dynamic presentation (he’s) ever witnessed on — of all things– blogging.”

Quote:

Benton argued that natural reporting often comes right after the experience, when the reader can catch the spark of the subject and the more authentic voice of the writer. But time passes, and the machine of conventional reporting neuters the point of view, neutralizes the language, and jams facts into standard suitcases. But then, more time passes and an investigative or feature writer recognizes the unrealized narrative potential of the story. Once again, “interestingness” becomes high. In this sense, reportorial blogging and narrative storytelling are allies against the snore-inducing, monochromatic delivery of conventional reporting. While straight reporting asks, “is it a story?” says Benton, the blogger wonders “is it interesting?” While the traditional report seems fixed in time, the blogger offers “an ongoing series of dispatches.” And just as narrative writers try to define character in stories, so bloggers “can make characters out of sources — and out of reporters, too.”

It’s not every day — or every month, for that matter — that I see a new adjective applied to the word blogging, so I felt the need to officially note that in addition to making a tremendously insightful observation, either Roy Peter Clark or Josh Benton have come up with a $5 one: reportorial blogging.

So when I grow up, I wanna be a reportorial blogger. Except wait.

Another thing I missed by traveling the past couple of weeks were the Mark Cuban posts (and here). Actually, I didn’t miss the posts as Dylan Stableford of Foliomag.com invited me to write something for him about the posts. Perhaps my head just wasn’t in the game, but despite reading what Mark was ranting about, I could never quite figure it out enough to agree or disagree. So I lost Dylan’s e-mail.

Anyway, it’s 2008, which means it’s about six years too late for me to give a rip about whether or not someone thinks the word “blog” is good or bad or professional or amateur or long tail or short tail. Here are other things I think have stupid names: e-mail, IM, RSS, google, the Dallas Mavaricks. (Just kidding.)

I think Mark Cuban likes blogging, blogs and bloggers. He just thinks that newspapers (which he sometimes doesn’t like) are crazy to go down-market with calling something a blog. (In much the same way, I guess, that TV goes down market when it airs something with good prime-time ratings (Dancing with the Stars, for example) and chooses to not air something in prime time that has bad ratings (NBA Basketball, for example.).

As for me, I have no problem with calling something “a blog” as long as it has a good, $5 adjective in front of it.

  • Five dollar adjectives aside, I like what Benton seems to be saying. Bloggers ask the right questions when considering what to share. They create a human narative that regular readers connect with. A person blogging about “interesting” things is a story teller. When it was successful, the news used to be more about story telling. Every medium has succcessful story tellers. Radio has them. TV has them. Print has them. The web has them, too. Despite Cuban, they’re called bloggers. Not a bad thing to be reminded.