Rather than continue the bloggers/fans and SOUND team vs. Pitchfork debate from earlier in the week (full round-up here), I have to shed some more light about who I am and who I am not.
I did not major in journalism in college; I majored in radio-TV-film and minored in advertising/PR. I have never written for a daily newspaper or a weekly paper. I have been blogging here since October 2004 and had never blogged before then. In addition to writing an article/interview on No Idea Records for them, I have written music and DVD reviews for Punk Planet for almost a year. I have written some concert, movie and music reviews for various online places (from Doomed Moviethon to Jeff's blog) in my time and am currently writing a book of my own, Post. So why am I showing all my writing cards here? To explain why I didn't understand a comment made about "Journalism 101" on the Life of a Zane blog earlier this week.
The "Journalism 101" example was about identifying one's self before publishing someone else's words. Apparently, this action is brought up in almost every introductory class to journalism, but I had never heard of it. I had to take a journalism introductory class in order to be get into advertising/PR, but that was the extent. I never worked at the school's newspaper or magazine. The most writing I did in school was about film and TV criticism for my RTVF classes.
Do I think I missed out on basic rules because I didn't major in journalism? To an extent, yes, but that hasn't stopped me from learning how to write and publish stuff. I argue that there is nothing common about "common sense," so there's going to be some trial and error regardless of one's background in any field.
I pose this hypothetical question: did Ian MacKaye, Jeff Nelson or Nathan Strejcek ever think that because they weren't business majors in college, they couldn't start a record label? I doubt it as their educational backgrounds didn't hinder them from starting and running Dischord Records in 1980. The same can be applied to a long history of musicians. Did any of them, especially the ones that picked up instruments because of punk rock, say, "Well, I didn't learn this in school, so I guess I'm not a musician"? I highly doubt that, but that example is often brought up when one identifies him or herself as a musician or not.
These days, anyone who has the drive to write something online and an e-mail address can start up a blog via Blogger, Typepad, MySpace and so on. I know some people in the professional journalism world are annoyed that a blogger could be considered as legit as what they're doing, but I see blogs, satirical newspapers, fanzines and reputable newspapers and magazines all as parts of various forms of information. Sure, untrue gossip in a newspaper or magazine and poorly worded/written blogs don't have as much legitimate strength as others, but that doesn't stop people from reading and writing them.
My point is this: there's identifying yourself as something because of your actions and then there's just doing these actions without waving titles around. I could be considered a journalist or a critic, but I'm not really focused on what my title should or shouldn't be. I'd much rather write and learn along the way. Call me a writer, hack, blogger, or whatever. Sure, my credibility may be subject to suspicion because I never had a formal education in the world, but that's not stopping me from writing and wanting to write more.