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Mourn not for end of pointless blogging

| Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

Last week, one of Pittsburgh's loudest Internet voices was silenced when PittGirl's Web log known as The Burgh Blog posted its last message.

Though the blog's readers no doubt are mourning, I cannot count myself among them.

As a paid, professional journalist, I find it troubling to have chosen a profession that's attracting more imitators than the new Beyonce video.

Writing is a tough gig, and the fact that millions of people choose to do it for free is a mystery to us paid writers. There's more reward in pretending to be a chiropractor or clergyman, but for some reason, they choose to mock us.

Because no one pays or edits bloggers, this means they compete for attention and do so without parameters, professional standards or editors. Editors scrutinize, adjust and generally have their way with our work, but without them, we're nothing more than unpaid hobbyists.

Or, bloggers, for lack of a better term.

Several local blogs have shut down in recent months, including mine, which was as inane and self-indulgent as they come. It ceased after even my editors acknowledged they didn't read it.

Though I never met PittGirl, my work was sometimes featured on her site and those of other bloggers -- often with my name attached to one excretory organ or another. This was generally followed by a scathing critique of my writing, conducted by people who never wrote anything more challenging than a signature.

It's as if our work, however spotty or full of human foibles, plays an even more significant part of the blogger's life than in our own.

Without our work, the bloggers are forced to actually write something on their own. This explains all that blogging about football scores, favorite cat toys and which episode of "Lost" someone missed last week.

Granted, I'm pleased that people choose to utilize their computers to communicate -- rather than, say, plan the destruction of civilization or vote for "Dancing with the Stars" contestants.

But if I had free time to write, not for profit but just to pass the hours, I'd churn out letters to my elected representatives or to bored, lonely people in the military or behind bars. I wouldn't waste it promoting my private life or imitating hacks like me.

So call me old-fashioned -- and I'm sure some local bloggers will call me far worse -- but my definition of an article is a work vetted, edited and fact-checked by professionals before it reaches the public. With rare exception does that describe blogs?

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