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Right down the middle


Observations by RICK ELKIN

I read a blog that responded to an inquiry, “What is the difference between a column and a blog?”  

The responses and ensuing counter comments were so long I gave up reading it.  It came off as a very tedious college lecture-hall debate where no one really answered the question. The truth is,  I have asked myself that question many times. 

In the article, the writer opined that blogs are a starting point for columns. I agree, writing a blog is like taking batting practice. My blogs are there to give me practice swings that have no consequence. I can be aggressive, even reckless, and carefree. I blog to create muscle memory so I can get a hit later when the game is on the line.

Blogging is preparation for Gameday. 

Newspaper columns are my Gameday. By nature, newspaper columns must be limited in length, and very focused. I have to be conscious of the readership and who I am sharing my thoughts with. To a certain degree, I have to censor myself to keep my emotions under control. My editorial manager says, “Don’t go up there swinging at everything. Be selective!”

It was also suggested that blogs are by nature “interactive” so readers can see alternate views and therefore blogs are discussions. OK, I understand that concept and recognize that most blogs are just that, an online water cooler conversation. As for me, I am not interested in discussions in the media. If you want a media forum for discussion, use Twitter.

My columns and blogs are mostly personal outbursts. I try to package them in an intellectually honest, and emotionally revealing way, but I am at that moment not interested in what other people think about my thought process. If I did, it might influence my thinking. If you allow the reader to look over your shoulder, how can any writer avoid intimidation or pandering?

I am obligated to articulate a point of view. To define a political or cultural mindset, and how it impacts all of us. I have a responsibility to be thoughtful and not just throw bombs. You could say columnists are making a formal presentation, and bloggers are informal. So for me, blogging is batting practice, my columns are Gameday and my books are the World Series. 

Most bloggers are content to toss their ideas into the blogosphere and watch them be discussed, discounted, embraced or dismissed indiscriminately. Their importance gets lost in a virtual continuum. Here today, gone tomorrow. There is such an oversupply of opinion online, that it’s real-time value has been diminished. Between all of the social media platforms, podcasting, and YouTube, blogging is like a leaf in the wind.

That leaf is going to land somewhere, and become the mulch for another breeding ground. It may not seem important now, but it could be critical to giving life to something special later.

My goal is to publish things that can stand the test of time. Subjects and perspectives that will be instructional next week, or next year. I relish the idea that my columns and books will actually stimulate real conversations. There is nothing I enjoy more than when someone says to me “I saw your column yesterday. I must say, I don’t entirely agree with you.”

That is a fastball right down the middle. 

Rick Elkin is a cultural and media observer, author and columnist. His most recent book, “Trump’s Reckoning: Bulldozing Progressivism, Rebuilding Americanism”, is available through most online booksellers. He resides in Escondido, California. You can follow him at RickElkin.com or on Twitter @Rick_Elkin.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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