In high school this is how I was taught to write news articles: the "inverted pyramid;" the "lede;" the "five W's and an H." Tease all facts out of the event, record said facts coherently into the template, spell-check, fact-check, print, read. Ta-da! Journalism 101.

The covered events could be boring or exciting, even historic. But that's immaterial to how they should be uniformly reported. When I read news I want information only. Strings of facts. Credible, well-referenced, easy to assimilate. I want my news as dry and coarse and joyless as eating Weetabix from the box.

What I don't want is what the reporter THINKS of the facts he or she is reporting while he or she is reporting them.

When I want an opinion I'll ask. Or look for it in more relevant sections of the paper: features, op-ed, the arts pages, reviews, the magazine, the crossword, the Jumble, the funnies, the classifieds. Because in news articles bringing sexy back isn't the goal. And the writer's thoughts, commentary, speculation, noodlings, or gossip is out of context and wholly inappropriate.

Besides, when I want an uneasy mixture of all of those things at once, I just read film blogs.

At their worst (film/fan) blogs ultimately place more importance on a blogger's personality than on the subject or the information. Facts are eclipsed or rendered mute. Bloggers hold them captive. Bloggers also hold YOU captive – in a stalled elevator during the blackout, or sharing your armrest and shoulder on the red-eye transatlantic flight. No quarter. It's a Trojan Horse – you want facts, then they spring out and beat you silly with faux-nabobism.

Metaphorically the worst bloggers are radio DJ's that talk over the musical intros of your favorite songs right up until the singing starts, with most of the chatter talking just for the sake of talking. I hate them. Morrissey had it right when calling to "Hang the DJ!" on Panic.

Shut up and play music. You're not on television; you're not funny; everything you say isn't amazing by virtue of your ability to draw breath; no one cares outside of "song title, band name;" and in this Clearchannel day and age you aren't even spinning platters or loading CD's, you're pushing buttons on computer-generated songlists. You're fungible. You work in a field that's on the iPodded and XM'd cusp of extinction. You're not famous. You probably have a face for radio. So don't take it out on your hostages by blabbing whilst dreaming that you're Howard Stern or Wolfman Jack.

Movie "news" entries on blogs are easier to compose than Mad Libs:

1) Piece of information (link, quote, source).
2) Lies, damned lies, statistics, first drafts, first thoughts, IMDB ratings, misspellings, speculation, what-if's, self-promotion, ballwashing, wishful thinking, randomness, spin, attempts at snark, stabs at humor, conventional wisdom, preaching to the choir, legislating from the bench.

News flash: most readers just want facts. Or one-sheets and trailers and movie stills and casting choices and links. The other stuff, where you offer your two cents? As effective as a Kent Brockman editorial. All noise no signal. Because you most likely have no interesting Voice at all, let alone one I trust.

How do you get a Voice? Having access to the information isn't enough; that's just a forum, podium, or soapbox. If there's no clear and distinct personality behind your reportage then thinking the audience reads YOU and not your "music" is putting cart before the horse. It's believing in your own bullshit.

If you care about more than page hits and want people to (really) love you, and you want your byline to instill fear, envy, and the sound of a million mouses clicking? Find your Voice. Cultivate it. Do your homework. Know your audience. Fact check. Spell correctly. Link things. Google solves 99% of the world's blog-post deficiencies yet blog posts are still undernourished with facts or opinion, and people still click to blog posts instead of getting the story on their own. Bring something to the table. Try harder.

UR just your URL until you have a Voice. Until you broker audience trust with each online offering. Until you build an honest, organic rapport. If your posts are as inconsistent, annoying, or irrelevant as any anonymous commenter on your site then you're merely another DJ fucking up my songs.

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Comment by Andrea Campbell on April 12, 2007 at 8:28am
I admit to having a blog and, yes, it's mainly a matter of opinion but I confess to adding statistics to mine (of course it's about the criminal justice system and they are so good at getting the numbers). It's also about how TV crime dramas are messing with reality and the ensuing problems it's causing. Intrigued? Visit:

(Blantant promotion that was, sorry.)

But, I am old-school and wonder, "When did people's mindless opinions become a stand-in for journalism"?

I think it harks back to the "man on the street" profiles that night talk-show comedians did for audience schtick. (But say, did anyone think the responses to: Who is Vice President? was a source of comedy? It's pitiful, that's what it is. Granted we all can't remember what was taught in American Government in the 8th grade but why set yourself up for a street interview if you don't read the newspaper? I find it hard to laugh at that.

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