Is blogging really necessary?

Ellen Fanning: “Isn’t it a bit silly that people in your position in political life are expected to tweet and blog on all this stuff, instead of just going out and talking to people?”
Bob Carr: “I think it is silly. I think interest may have peaked. Look, all these blogs, I’m sure many of them are excellent, but how much time in the day can you invest in being kept informed. Once you got through the newspapers … how would have you the extra two hours to go through the websites?”
That exchange between the host of The Observer Effect, Ellen Fanning, and the Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr (pictured above), on June 9 got me thinking about blogging and tweeting. Carr’s comments on blogging never got to air on SBS because we had to cut it from the original edit, but we have posted it on Facebook.
The erudite and well-read Foreign Minister also admitted he didn’t have time to write for his blog, or even read it. And that led me to ask the question: Is blogging really necessary?
When I returned to full-time television, I was reminded how relentless tv can be. Even an hour program like The Observer Effect (broadcast Sunday nights at 8.30 on SBS1) takes a lot out of you: the constant watching of television to check out stories you can use for the show; finding packages or grabs that will elicit a reaction from the guest, calling media advisers to see if their bosses can appear on the program, researching the occasional guest, editing interviews and making sure they still hold together. Writing, reading and producing. It doesn’t leave much time for a blog, but I love it.
I also love writing, and a blog like this is all mine, for better or worse, but it doesn’t pay, except in satisfaction. Television is teamwork. Fortunately, we have a great team. But if one person in a team or a studio makes a mistake, it can show on air … and keep you awake at night, wondering how you missed it, especially if you were the one responsible!
Yet when it works, and the quality shows, it doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve worked or how much sleep you got, it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. And when at the end of it, someone comes up and says to you: “Good show,” it’s all worth it.
Blogging, on the other hand, is a solitary exercise. You think of a topic – usually something that stirs your passions or your interest – and you write until you’re happy with it. Then you find a photo to illustrate your story, add the tags and try to think of a good headline. Oh, and I almost forgot: you polish it. You check for any corrections, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and better words or phrases to make a reader say: “That was a great/good read.” Like the comment: “Good show.”
Like any working journalist, I also try to spin an interesting, well-written yarn. In the past two weeks, I found myself quoting two blogs I wrote two years ago, self-plagiarism, you could call it, because the two people featured in my posts were in the news as usual: Julia Gillard and Rupert Murdoch.
Julia Gillard, who lost the leadership challenge and the title of Prime Minister to Kevin Rudd, and Rupert Murdoch, who told staff at his Sun newspaper in London in March that the phone hacking scandal was “the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.”
So what was I quoting from my blogs in 2011?
Here’s what I wrote on July 21, 2011 in my post titled: Humble is as humble does (http://wp.me/p1Ytmx-L): “It was hard not to feel a bit of sympathy for Rupert Murdoch when he told the inquiry: ‘This is the most humble day of my life.’ It’s a shame it took the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation so long to discover humility. But then it took a long time for Scrooge to find the spirit of Christmas. James Murdoch was more confident and assured as was Rebekah Brooks who was interrogated separately after being given bail the day before. You can’t help but ask the question: how could such experienced executives at the top not know what was going on behind the scenes at the News of the World.” I’m still asking that question two years later.
And this is what I wrote on June 30, 2011 (http://wp.me/p1Ytmx-F) when the then Prime Minister came into the Channel Ten studios in Sydney to be interviewed on the Meet the Press program: “Julia Gillard is warm, charismatic, funny and engaging, and that doesn’t come across on television very often, but when you see her working a room as she did with our studio crew and observers last Sunday morning, you’d think she was a female Bob Hawke – and he is the best I’ve ever seen. Let Julia Gillard be Julia Gillard and the Labor Party and the country will be a better place as a result.” My headline was: Let Julia be Julia. Two years later I still believe that.
So for me, that’s why blogging is necessary, and why my return to television makes me realise how important a blog is to me. It’s about creativity, writing what I want to write when I want to write it.
And all three guests on The Observer Effect this Sunday have that spark of creativity that makes them special at what they do: the founder of the food rescue charity, OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn, who discovered the joy of giving food to those who need it; award-winning actor and writer, Brendan Cowell, whose mother pushed him to use his imagination, and succeeded exceedingly well; comedian Amanda Bishop, an actress with the voice of an angel, hitting the distinctive notes of the Julia Gillard twang. Boy, does she let Julia be Julia!
Quite a trifecta, if I do say so myself.
If you disagree, I’m sure you’ll let me know.*
As my hero, the famous American writer and columnist, Jimmy Breslin, would say, thanks for the use of the hall. (It’s an old Irish expression.)
Tom Krause is the series producer of The Observer Effect. His views are his own; always have been.
*PS You can respond on this blog, my Twitter account @krauset or the show’s account @observersbs. And you can also check out The Observer Effect‘s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ObserverSBS and website: http://www.sbs.com.au/theobservereffect/

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