I mentioned earlier this month that I started opinion-blogging four years ago.
Which means that today is the one-year anniversary of the end of my employment with Marketplace Magazine and Journal Communications. Which, you’ll recall, prompted the creation of this blog.
(The irony is that today I’m speaking at a Ripon elementary school’s Career Day. That is a better activity than what I was doing one year ago today.)
A year ago tomorrow I wrote:
I’ve been told, and it makes sense, that I should start a blog to maintain the discipline of writing. (Rust is a terrible thing, as anyone who owned a 1970s-era car should know.)
And so, here begins, for an indeterminate amount of time, The Presteblog. The Presteblog is likely (though not certain) to read much like Marketplace of Ideas … the opinion column and blog of Marketplace in the 10 years I was the editor of Marketplace. …
The late Marketplace of Ideas blog was usually four days of business/political stuff (and in three years of daily blogging I certainly never lacked for material), along with what I called “Frideas,” on subjects that might be found in the Wall Street Journal’s Weekend Journal — which included everything from cars to pets to parenting to adult beverages to my sons’ Cub Scouting. We’ll see if I can maintain that schedule. …
We’ll all see where this goes.
I have more or less followed that format over the past year. (I violate it when the calendar doesn’t cooperate, such as when the 30th anniversary of your high school’s state boys basketball title occurs on a Tuesday.) Four days a week readers get my views, or others’ views with which I mostly agree, that lurch between conservative and libertarian. (And if you can’t come up with an opinion to express in this state these days, you shouldn’t be opinionating.) Fridays are the date for ruminations on all the aforementioned nonpolitical subjects and others, such as the one coming next hour.
While some readers may conclude that I’m a doctrinaire right-winger and whatever the GOP does is perfect, actual readers know I do not believe that. The Democratic Party’s contribution to our country is overwhelmingly negative, but that doesn’t mean the Republican Party’s contribution has been always positive. (I think there are few members of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy in Wisconsin who criticize Gov. Scott Walker. I do, though probably not in areas of which Democrats would approve.)
I try to be original in what I write, with others’ views to buttress and restate mine. I prefer facts and logical arguments to, calling, for instance, public employee union heads poo-poo heads. (However: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin is a socialist. That’s not name-calling; that’s a fact, even if she won’t admit it.) There is enough on which to criticize President Obama without delving into conspiracy theories about his citizenship.
If nothing else, the Presteblog has been a good exercise in the discipline of daily writing. When I started the Presty the DJ blogs, I began to combine Saturday and Sunday entries until they got too large. (And on some days the weekday blogs get large enough to make … the … page … very … slow … to … load …) I am often sitting in the living room at 1 a.m. finishing up tomorrow’s blog, and not always because this laptop is as the as slow as a Chevrolet Vega on bad gas.
The irony is that daily journalism takes up the smallest space in the journalism portion of my career. In order of length, it’s 11 years of quadriweekly (?) business magazines, five years of weekly newspapers, and 7½ months of daily newspapers. And yet here I am with nearly a year of blogging every day, not just every weekday.
This blog also got me onto Facebook, where I somehow have managed to accumulate 298 Friends. (I was on Twitter before, where I have 536 followers.) The person who advised me to switch from Blogger to WordPress also pointed out that Facebook has enough users to count as the third largest country on earth. (Irrespective of the double-counting thing, that is.) I got onto Facebook for networking and to promote this blog. The added bonus has been the number of people with whom I’ve gotten to connect, or reconnect, and in a few instances deconnect, as well as annoy with my disagreeable (to them) political views. I’m also on Google+, though I’m not sure why.
I maintain my skepticism of social media as really being all that unique. It strikes me as merely another way to communicate, with its own particular characteristics, and its pluses and minuses, the latter including the inability to take back something you said or wrote that in retrospect could have been expressed better. Blogs, on the other hand, give one the opportunity to communicate — or, put another way, show off yourself — in multimedia, with photo, audio and video options:
Blogs do, however, require you to promote your blog. This blog gets picked up every so often at wisopinion.com and wisupnorth.com. I also blog at RiponPress.com and at IBWisconsin.com, which give me new audiences to offend. And keeping up my reputation as a media ‘ho I will appear generally wherever someone will have me — “Sunday Insight with Charlie Sykes,” Wisconsin Public Radio, and even the lion’s den, the People’s Republic of Madison.
For those interested, here are my top 10 blog entries in number of page views (not counting the home page, which always gets the most hits) since March 31, 2011, starting in David Lettermanesque fashion from number 10 (snare drum roll, please):
10. “100 years (and one day) of our Chevrolets,” Nov. 4, 2011.
9. “What’s the matter with Madison?“, Dec. 29, 2011.
8. “Wisconsin – Madison = ?“, Dec. 13, 2011.
7. “While riding in my Cadillac,” Dec. 30, 2011.
6. “Foolish Absolute Liberal Kathleen,” Jan. 19, 2012.
5. “A hairy subject, or face the face,” Nov. 18, 2011.
4. “Unions vs. the facts, part deux,” Nov. 29, 2011.
3. “Unions vs. the facts, or, Hiding in plain sight,” July 19, 2011.
2. “Your Brewers/Badgers/Packers blog,” Oct. 3, 2011.
And the number one Presteblog post of all time (that is, 365 days) (floor tom drum roll, please) …
1. “When rhetoric goes too far,” Nov. 8, 2011.
Obviously the older the blog entry is, the more hits it’ll get. It is interesting, though, that the oldest of the top 10 is eight months old, the second oldest is five months old, and most are from November and December. And if you look at the list, my favorite subjects for others to read are state politics and the associated Recallarama crap, fall 2011 sports, facial hair, my ongoing verbal war with my hometown, and Cadillacs and Chevrolets. (Apparently all I need do to bump hits is to write about the logical next step from Occupy _______: Assassinations.)
The odd thing about this is that I like doing this. I started the blogs when I returned to Marketplace to reach new audiences. I don’t have to be writing two separate blogs at 12:29 a.m. with a body heat-sucking cat in between me and the laptop, but I am. And I see from my blog software that people are actually reading this. As I’ve written before, negative comments are second in preference only to positive comments; the worst is to hear “You write? Never heard of you.”
So The Presteblog continues for, as previously threatened, an indeterminate amount of time. We’ll all see where this goes.