Blogs and Pulitzers
One of the responses to Trellix's announcement about Blogger was a very nice article from Reuters. In it, I'm quoted as saying "'These are people who are writing for their friends,' Bricklin said. 'No one's going to win any Pulitzer prizes.'" It's not exactly what I thought I said and meant, but it was such as minor part of such a nice article that I wasn't planning to comment. Dave Winer saw the aritcle and asked me about the quote. He clearly doesn't agree, as most who know him could guess, and he's had a recent bout with reporting about his positions in a newspaper. I wrote an explanation to Dave and he encouraged me to post it. Here's what I wrote back to Dave:


That's not what I told him as I remember. It was a misquote, but I've learned whenever someone else repeats what they thought you said there is a good chance for error especially with how I speak (which is why I wrote up the Blogger story myself rather than let the press be the only source of what I said).

What I said (to him and others, I hope) is that most of the people are *** not trying to win Pulitzer prizes ***, not "not going to win". (I was thinking Pulitzer as in "distinguished fiction" or poetry -- excellence in writing.) Some of them are (and could win one), but many bloggers are writing for their friends and others who share their interests. They are driven by passion and not the craft of writing. (You can tell that my writing is like that.) I was trying to deflect the condescending attitude many of the press have about web logs wrt the writing. The press, being "professional writers", measure the writing quality, style, technique, choice of topic, and target audience against what they were taught in school, with a Pulitzer as a goal. I want to emphasize that many writers don't care about that, they just care about communicating with their readers or expressing themselves for their own good feeling. That freshness is wonderful and makes the genre so "real" and human. You point out the same, talking about no editors, not following conventional journalism, etc. That's not trying to win a Pulitzer, that's trying to say what you feel. (Whether the Pulitzer committee decides to award one for that type of writing or not is their choice -- they could and should perhaps (they opened up to online journalism recently) -- but it's not a drive behind an awful lots of bloggers I've read, no matter what the tool.) Are you trying to be the best in "professional journalism" or are you just trying to "write for love"?

I remember a professor at MIT, explaining some people's drive, telling us how one of his colleagues years ago wasn't so much driven by love of a particular science as by where he should do research so he could win a Nobel prize (he chose the "right" area and won a Nobel -- a very driven person). Many people joined dotComs because of the lure of money, no matter what the topic. Those of us who love our craft find that foreign. (Unless our craft is business-building.) We like to work in areas that interest us and let the money be a by-product. Many bloggers write because of passion for what they want to say, no matter how simple the writing or bland (to others) the topic.

Sorry I was misunderstood.


April 18, 2001

To help you see where I was coming from in thinking about not aiming for a Pulitzer, I've written an essay about pamphleteering around the time of the Amerian Revolution and posted it in the Writings section of my web site.

April 23, 2001
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