I have written a lot of articles for publication in newspapers and magazines. If I publish in the New York Times or the Washington Post or the New York Daily News, my writing will reach hundreds of thousands of readers. Of course, many of their readers will pass right over your article, will not read it. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting my articles published. The blog reaches thousands of readers every day, not hundreds of thousands, and I’m content to know that every one of my readers cares about the subject.
Tomorrow, as the saying goes, the newspaper will be wrapping fish, but the blog will be saved, printed out, tweeted, posted on Facebook, or sent to friends and legislators.
But there is something about blogging that is even more rewarding than being printed in the newspaper. For one thing, I can write whatever I want whenever I want. That’s self-publishing. It is a sort of vanity project, to be sure, but it has its benefits. No one edits me. At some publications, the editors are very heavy-handed. No matter what I turn in, they always think they can write it better. It’s too long. Cut 200-300 words. The ending should be the beginning, and the beginning should be the ending. You can’t say this, there’s no room for that. Sorry, as we went to press, we have to cut another 100 words.
And there is always the chance that the editor(s) will decide he doesn’t want to publish you at all. So you either have wasted your time or you have to go knock on some other publication’s doors to find an outlet. I hate to think of all the unpublished articles I have written. As everyone who writes about education knows, there are very few outlets that will publish you. So one tends to accept whatever editors say or demand as the cost of being published.
The ultimate joy of blogging, then, is freedom to write, freedom to speak, freedom to express one’s views without editing.
And there is one other joy: The ability to interact with readers. When an op-ed appears in the newspaper, there may be a few letters printed. The writer never sees all of them and never gets to respond to those whose letters were published. On my blog, I read every comment, and I respond when a response seems warranted. This interactivity is priceless. I feel that the blog has put me in touch with a large community of friends, and they support me as I support them through these difficult times.
The danger of blogging is that I am having too much fun. There are longer articles that require focus and concentration, and I am blogging instead of doing the more challenging work.
And this fall, when I start my travels and lectures, I will have less time to keep up the frenetic pace of 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 blogs a day. I will have to cut back to one a day.
Yet every time I read an article about education, I want to react. Now I can.
This is my sounding board. Thank you for listening and reading.