What Is The Role Of A Blogger?
One week from tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of when I started Oilpressure.com. I began this site at the urging of friends, because in their eyes – I knew more about IndyCar racing than anyone. I knew that certainly wasn’t true and I was very reluctant to do it. I began looking at the other IndyCar blog sites and my fears were confirmed. There were millions that knew way more than I did, and expressed it far more succinctly than I could. I quickly dismissed the idea of a blog, since I had no desire to make a complete fool of myself. A couple of weeks later, my brother suggested I start an IndyCar blog – without any knowledge that it had been suggested before. I then allowed one of my best friends, Bruce Yarbro, to talk me into it. With the promised help of Bruce and longtime friend Susan Scruggs; I decided to do it and launched it May 1.
I didn’t really know what to do, starting out. I saw no need to become a “news” site. There were plenty of those already that were doing a great job. Nor did I wish to do anything outlandish. I never really considered myself to be a polarizing figure and saw no need to start now. Instead, I decided to pick a single topic each day and just start typing about it. I started out mainly with the idea to educate my friends that were not IndyCar fans, but might want to learn about it.
Surprisingly – other people stumbled across it, apparently liked what they read and continued to come back. As I’ve mentioned before; I’ll always owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pressdog and My Name Is IRL for devoting unsolicited write-ups for the site. Things really took off after that. I’ll also give a sincere thanks to Roy Hobbson. He and I spar with each other, but most can tell it is all in fun. He gave a lot of early shout-outs to me, long before I even knew who he was or what The Silent Pagoda was all about. Come to think of it – I’m still not quite sure what The Silent Pagoda is about, but he has become a good friend nonetheless.
My posts tend to be a little longer than most – OK, a lot longer – but what I have found is that most readers seem to appreciate the way that I present my opinions. They don’t always agree with my opinions, but they realize that I try to back up my opinions with facts – unless of course, it’s something like me not liking lima beans. It’s just a preference – my preference. That’s what bloggers do. They write their opinions.
Such was the case with Wednesday’s article. It was an opinion – my opinion. The response generated more of a buzz than I anticipated – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The tone in the comments section quickly shifted from whether or not Milka Duno should be parked, to why a lowly blogger would ever dare to comment on such things. I’m pretty thick-skinned and I certainly don’t mind when opposing viewpoints are presented to me in a civil manner. What caught me by surprise were the comments directed at the entire blogging community. One comment in response to the anti-blogger sentiment, summed up what I was wondering already – why do people that have such disdain for bloggers read the blogs?
I don’t care for the NBA, but I don’t spend my time carousing through all of the NBA sites just to tell everyone there how I hate the NBA. I just choose not to follow it. I love football and baseball, so I put up with the NBA highlights while watching SportsCenter. My biggest sign of protest is to get up and go to the kitchen while they’re on.
One result of the comments (and some very nasty e-mails) was that they forced me to examine the role of the blogger. I’ve glanced at a few blogs outside of the IndyCar realm. Like most IndyCar blogs; some are well written, while others are not. Some try to be outrageously shocking, some provocative, and some funny. Some reach their objective, some don’t. Some simply portray the writer’s passion, observations and opinions about whatever the subject at hand. That is what I have tried to do with this site.
Looking back over Wednesday’s article, I saw no “flame throwing” or “hack job” on my part. The most outrageous statement I made was my first sentence where I said, “it’s time for Milka to be parked…permanently”. I was not trying to be shocking. That was my opinion and it still is today. I feel that I backed up that statement with facts and logic. There was no hate involved. Based upon the very unscientific pole and the various comments, I would say that the vast majority agreed with my sentiment.
In fact, there were only four individuals (one had two names) that disagreed with me, but their multiple comments accounted for almost half of the comments posted. However, not a single one of those had any facts behind them to back up their rants. Instead, they claimed that I was in the “ol’ boys club”, I was flirting with a defamation lawsuit or that bloggers were essentially the root and cause of everything that is wrong and evil on the planet.
I started asking myself if I had indeed crossed the line. I don’t have near the following of some of the IndyCar blog sites, but those that have been coming to this site for a while, are very regular and loyal. They know that I don’t go for shock-value or say outrageous things. Those longtime readers will also tell you how frequently I say that I am NOT a journalist, nor do I pretend to be one. I am a blogger and that means I am a fan – and a very passionate fan, at that.
As you’ve probably guessed – my answer to my question was; No, I did not cross the line. Different people have different ideas of what a blogger is. Some perceive bloggers as 16 year-old kids typing away in a dark basement. Others see them as frustrated, wannabee journalists simply acting out their fantasies. There are those that consider bloggers as political extremists, hiding behind the anonymity of a keyboard. I have well-defined political views – most can probably guess which way I lean – but I don’t believe they have any business being injected into any IndyCar blog. Few however, actually see us for what most of us are – regular adults with real jobs, who are extremely passionate about IndyCar racing.
We probably enjoy it for different reasons. I grew up watching and following the sport long before the days of the internet. To make matters worse, I was in the south where racing meant NASCAR. I was always starved for news. The information I got was through magazines and it was always days or even weeks old before I read it. Now that we have this way of exchanging information and ideas; I enjoy sharing my take on drivers, issues or events and reading what others have to say, preferably when presented in a civilized manner.
Which leads me to my last point. Although I don’t care for all of the venom that was being spewed here over the last two days, not a whole lot really bothered me – except one lone post. It was by someone that claimed to be a professional journalist. He then went on his tirade by spouting:
“In today’s “Instant Karma” world of mass electronic communication where anyone can aquire (sic) a domain name and become the “journalistic expert” that the (real) media community somehow missed out on recognizing his or hers talants (sic), “bloggers” have also become a driver’s hazard. But, I guess the view from the judgement (sic) seat has always been better from an “ivory tower”, one’s sofa or peering through the “other side” of a fence at a racetrack.”
Without going into much detail, this “professional journalist” works a nine to five job here in Nashville, just like the rest of us. His motorsports journalistic portfolio consists of two IndyCar articles published in a local periodical. Now that’s two more than I’ve had published, but I don’t think his credentials qualify him to be looking down his nose and blaming bloggers for swine flu, the Icelandic volcano or any other ills of the world. Based on his spelling ability, I’m not sure he should be feeling superior to anyone regarding his literary skills. Is it tacky on my part to rat the guy out? Probably, but bear in mind that I am essentially a very shallow person.
But unlike his claims, I don’t do this to satisfy some unfulfilled journalistic fantasy. I have no aspirations to be a journalist and I don’t know of any IndyCar bloggers that have illusions of being journalists, either. I love this sport and nothing makes me happier than talking about it. There aren’t many people here locally that I can discuss the points and issues of the IZOD IndyCar Series – so I do the next best thing, I write about the things that interest me and then read the feedback from others. Usually, the readers here are extremely polite and knowledgeable, yet they are extremely passionate. And yes, you can be passionate about something without being a total jerk.
So to those that have been here for quite a while, as well as those that have just recently found this site – I offer my sincere thanks and hope you’ll continue to visit Oilpressure.com. This past year has been extremely enjoyable, and the site has exceeded all of my expectations – although they weren’t that high to begin with. To those that find joy in their misery, especially at the expense of the enjoyment of others – I might suggest you go elsewhere. Life is too short and precious to waste it on those who are angry and frustrated with their world – the legions of the miserable.