Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Must Have Hit the Snooze Button

Okay, I’m overdue with my blog posts again… Sorry – that seems to be a trend with me. As any blogger knows, you need to have time to dedicate to these things and topics to write about. I started my blog as a way of sharing good news about people I know. No, I didn’t run out of good news, but it doesn’t always come flowing like that, and so my blog has taken different turns along the way. I seem to write about whatever inspires me at the time. 

By design, I haven’t focused on one single topic or theme, which goes against the advice of most good bloggers. My lack of focus is probably why I go long stretches without updating my blog. I know – the first rule of blogging is to stay current. I’ve failed in that respect. But I didn’t want this to become a daily journal, because I want it to be at least somewhat interesting. Instead, I write when I can or when something strikes me.

So this blog is about blogs. There are thousands and thousands of them out there, but most people I know don’t have their own blog. Perhaps because most my friends really don’t want to put themselves out there for the world to see, even in today’s world of social media. If they do, it’s so much easier to post tidbits and pictures on Facebook and stay current that way. Then again, there are still plenty of my friends who don’t even have a Facebook account. They only recently got their first cell phones, moved from VHS to DVD, and finally moved their Internet service from Prodigy or Earthlink.

The world has changed, and all of us can pretty much tell our own stories any way we want. It no longer matters if you are a credible journalist. If you have a blog, you’re instantly a published writer. And in this world of social media, you can bet people are paying attention. I found that out when I posted some things about the former baseball coach at Claremont High, and when I reminisced about things that aren’t here anymore.

I prefer to write my blog entries when I have something to say. I realize I’m rambling with this post, without much new information to offer. I commend those people who can do this with regularity and keep people interested. It’s tough. I’ve seen great pieces from people who don’t have blogs and really should be sharing their material with the world (you know who you are), except they likely run into the same challenge of being able to maintain a blog. Instead, their work goes unseen by most, when it really should be shared. If you fall in to that category, please feel free to cut and paste your story into the comments section of one of my posts, and maybe that way the handful of people who read this will also see your masterpieces, too.

Then again, there are a few people I know who have joined the blogging world. In fact, I’m writing this one because my friend Bill Baldwin recently started blogging on behalf of his company, Hartman/Baldwin Design Build. Bill’s goals are to shed light on home remodeling topics while promoting his company’s services. Good approach.

Another friend, Katrina Grabowski, writes about her family in more of a personal journal format. It’s a great way for her to share what’s happening, and it sure beats those silly letters that people still insist on sending as their Christmas cards every year (okay Ginz, yours are good). This is much more personal and meaningful.

Those are key ingredients to a good blog, and that’s what our intern blogger at Cal State San Bernardino is trying to capture with the new Coyote Calling blog. We’ll eventually add more bloggers to the mix, but Caitlin Elgin is doing a great job of telling her college experiences. She’s good. I hope future college students take the time to read and get a taste of campus life at CSUSB.

And while I’m on the subject of future college students, I’ve read the Wise Like Us blog religiously over the past year as Sam went through the process of applying for college, and the preparation and anxiety that comes with taking that next step. Definitely a blog to share.

The best blogs I’ve read are a lot more focused than mine. Typically, they are written by newspaper reporters or former reporters who have zeroed in on a specific “beat.” For example, I enjoy reading Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen’s blog, because he finds offbeat tidbits and observations about local places and people.

Most major newspapers now have blogs for most of their beats. They’re broken down by communities or by traditional newspaper section, such as sports, entertainment, local news and business. Within each of those sections there might be even more separate blogs. In the sports section, for instance, you’ll find separate blogs for every local professional and college team, as well as a high school sports blog. I frequently check out the Varsity Insider blog from the LA Times, as well as Fred Robledo’s Best High School Sports Blog from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

I always read blogs about the local sports teams to find out the latest new sooner and in more detail than I’ll find in the morning newspaper. The Inside UCLA, Dodgers Thoughts and the Dodgers Blog blogs are a couple of my favorites, because I know the main topic they’ll cover and that they’ll be updated several times a day. In both cases (and plenty of others), the same material appears in the newspaper the next day. I read the Inside UCLA blog daily to track media reports about Richard Brehaut, and to keep his dad up to date about what is being written. Another UCLA blog called Bruins Nation incorporates posts from “members.” I assume most are fans, but the tone often gets negative and even hateful. There are countless blogs for pretty much every professional and college sports team around. The bigger the sport, the more blogs there are, including many that charge a fee and have fan forums that are downright nasty.

Perhaps the best baseball blog is Major League Baseball Trade Rumors, which taps the nation’s baseball writers for insights into personnel moves around the major leagues. It has been known to break news about a trade before the players were even notified.

There are blogs that cover the news and the business of news. LA Observed  and Gary Scott both follow what’s happening in newsrooms, as well as what is making news.

Along with those written by newspapers, most communities seem to have a few additional blogs. I found a number of others that give me news about Claremont, as well as plenty of others that cover Upland, Pomona and other local cities. Visit any of those and they likely link to the others. The Claremont Insider has its place as a watchdog over Claremont decision makers. Opinionated, entertaining and sometimes sensational, it’s a must-read for city residents, businesses and especially politicos. I don't always agree with the Insider, and I'm sure it gets under the skin of a few people, but that's part of its role and appeal. It's especially good.

Blogs can be pretty addicting, and I really do check out several every day, with the same routine that I read the morning newspaper. There’s no shortage to pick from, so find a few to satisfy your thirst for information. I find they keep me clued-in and entertained. I just hope this one serves the same purpose for you, even if I don’t have a focus.