How I learned to stop worrying and love the Observer. by Russ
January 27, 2009, 1:39 am
Filed under: Russ

This first blog post is not as easy to write as it looks. I have a huge problem with the whole idea, but after chatting with our esteemed leader, David Johnson, I think I have an idea.

I do not have a problem with blogging, some of my best friends are bloggers, but it’s simply not what I do. Five years as a newspaper reporter trained me to keep my mouth shut. In my opinion, nobody needs my opinion.

Covering local politics and presidential primaries in New Hampshire, I frequently found myself in a position where someone asked, “Well, what do you think?” I always declined to answer. People already assume reporters are biased and frequently tell us what biases they believe we have. For me, if both sides of a story accused me of bias against them, I chalked it up as a good article. I knew my reporting was not biased, but the last thing I needed was anyone hearing me say anything that could be construed as “leaning” one way or another. So, for the past five years I practiced keeping my thoughts to myself, and now the habit is hard to break.

It’s even harder to break in a blog format knowing that this will remain online, as a record, until the power goes out, but Johnson is requiring it.

So, I’ll be writing about the Observer itself. It’s something that’s caused me no small amount of consternation as I figure out how I fit into it, and what we’re really doing here – just like blogging. A perfect match?

The Observer is a work-in-progress that, at points, all of the AU graduate journalism students are proud of, and just as often, we’re not so proud of. It’s the nature of the beast – rather than putting us into a fully formed, functioning news organization, our program is designed to make us build one from the ground-up. It’s one of the more exciting features of the AU graduate program that reminds me of what I love most about journalism, and it’s also one of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered at AU.

So, my blog posts will also be works-in-progress, an attempt to make our publication better – find its faults when necessary and brag about the successes when I can. I’ll try to keep it in the tradition of the “reader’s representative” or “ombudsman” columns – honest, self-conscious and constructive appraisal – but I’ll also work to respect my classmates and try to avoid singling any one of them out.

Blogs are better when there’s feedback. The Observer will be as well, especially as we grow the site’s traffic and try to cobble together a product from our varied backgrounds that is still ours but has resonance with readers. So, if there’s anything a reader thinks needs to be addressed, feel free to email me, or comment on one of my posts.


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