I started what would evolve into The Peoria Pundit V. 2.0 when I was the editor of the Peoria Times Observer. I quickly discovered one benefit to being a blogger. I was my own publisher, and as such, I alone decided what was “fit to print” on my own site.
As an editor, I was expected to write editorials and columns. I learned so much of what I believed was not considered fit for publication. There was the time I argued against the city taking action to close a dirty book store off of Pioneer Parkway. The argument was that people weren’t just going there to buy books, but to rent movies and, heaven forbid, masturbate in booths inside the business.
Poppycock, I wrote. Does the occupant of one home have the right to insist that their next-door neighbor not masturbate? Of course not. So what business is it of ANYONE’S whether or not people are masturbating inside this book store? You can’t get a disease by driving by such a place.
The libertarian-minded among you are all noting your heads in agreement. The statists among you are mentally screaming: “What’s wrong with you! Yuck!”
Well, my immediate boss was a statist. So the edit did not run.
But the publisher of my blog (namely “me”) had no qualms against publishing a defense of masturbation.
And it got better after I was fired as editor (not specifically for this editorial, but I think it played a part). I soon realized that the 1st Amendment rights that I thought gave me the right to publish editorials for the Times-Observer didn’t really give ME the right to write them. It gave the owner or the newspaper the right to write them. I was the hired gun they hired to do the hard work. All the rights belonged to the publisher.
I used to use Blogger.com for blogging. But I soon learned that as libertarian-minded as Blogger, it was still THEIR site I was using to express my opinions (and I’m the first to admit, I took liberties on the blog that i would never take writing for someone else). I had my own sense of propriety, but Blogger had their own.
So, I rented some space and got a pMachine blog. Then I upgraded to Moveable Type (all the cool kids used it at the time). Then I moved to WordPress, which as the moment seems to have won the blogger wars. Now, my host could decide at any moment that I am a dangerous reactionary and pull my account (I also think NSA could also theoretically demand my site be taken down). But here’s the important thing: I own the databases. As long as I do regular downloads, the most I could loose would be a day’s worth of posts. I could publish my posts on a Russian site if i had to.
And here’s the thing about Blogger. It’s owned by the good folks at Google. Well, I used to run Google AdSense ads on the original Peoria Pundit. That is, until Google decided I was a dirty filthy member of the Westboro Babtist Church and pulled all ads from my site because I was spreading hate. My sin was posting a photo of some Westboro church members carrying some of their hate signs.
Now, Google was trying their best. But no amount of pleading on my part would convince these dolts that I wasn’t agreeing with the Westboro cultists, I was doing my best to expose them. No matter. I solved the problem by moving my site. I’ve solved the problem further by not running Google AdSense ads. They weren’t generating cash, anyway.
Don’t like what I write here? Send a letter to the Webmaster. Which is me. I’ll have a firm talk with myself. You can also talk with my host, HostGator, who will tell you to take it up with the Webmaster.
You can also threaten to sue. Which will get you nowhere. Truth is a pretty good defense against a libel suit. Not that you will find a lawyer willing to sue a guy with no money and no assets. Plus, I will print all threatening letters and make fun of you.
Can you do the citizen journalism thing on Twitter or Facebook? Certainly. There’s a lot of citizen journalism going on on Twitter. But a lot of it is disseminating links to BLOGS. Same with Facebook. Both are sites that are pretty good for getting people to visit blogs. But long-form journalism? No way. It wouldn’t be effective, and all it takes is a complaint from one crank, and down it goes.
But if you want to do the citizen journalism thing, get a blog (or a vlog), and do it on a site YOU own. The strength of blogging is that the bloggers are reporters AND publishers. The corporate publisher/editor/reporter model is pretty good of generating stories about check passings and garden shows.
Tomorrow will be the 12th anniversary of this blog, Happy me.